Toenail manganese as a potential biomarker for in utero and early childhood exposure studies

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Elevated in utero and early childhood exposure to manganese may have adverse effects on neurodevelopment. We conducted preliminary analyses to evaluate toenails as a matrix for investigating manganese exposure in infants. Infant and maternal toenail and hair samples were collected from 25 infants (7 months old) and their mothers. A subset of mothers was recruited in the third trimester of pregnancy and some also provided pre-natal toenail, hair, and blood samples, cord blood, and additional post-natal samples. Collected samples were analyzed by inductively coupled plasma mass-spectrometry. Toenail manganese levels in infants ranged from below the limit of detection (LOD) to 2.80 µg/g. Only 1 toenail sample and 4 hair samples contained levels of manganese below LOD. Associations between infant and maternal biomarkers were not statistically significant. Analysis of multiple post-natal toenail samples from a single infant-mother pair showed an increase in the infant’s toenail manganese and a decrease in maternal toenail manganese over the first year of the infant’s life. Overall, our findings suggest that toenails may serve as a valuable biological matrix for measuring manganese exposure in newborns and infants; however, additional studies are needed to determine the impact of the timing of toenail sample collection on its utility in assessing early life exposure and health outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number17034
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank the women and infants who volunteered for this pilot study and the midwives who facilitated the participant enrollment. The authors also thank Andrew D. Ryan, MS for his assistance in data interpretation and Robert Carlson for editorial assistance. This work was supported by a grant from the Consortium on Law, Values and the Health Sciences, University of Minnesota; and startup funds to Dr. Irina Stepanov from the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, The Author(s).


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