Repeated manganese (Mn) exposure may cause increased production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), with a consequent imbalance in the glutathione (GSH) antioxidant defence system, resulting in cellular dysfunctions, and eventually cell death, particularly in the brain. d-ribose-l-cysteine (RibCys) has been demonstrated to effectively promote the synthesis of glutathione, a potent neutralizer of ROS. In the present study, we examined the effects of RibCys on glutathione levels, apoptotic and astrocytic responses, neuronal ultrastructural integrity, following Mn exposure. Wild-type rats were exposed to either saline, Mn, or/and RibCys for 2 weeks. The Mn-exposed rats received RibCys either as pre-, co-, or post-treatments. Mn caused a marked decrease in GSH levels, overexpression of GFAP and caspase-3, reflecting astrocytosis and apoptosis, and altered ultrastructural integrities of the neuronal nuclei, mitochondria, and myelin sheath of the striatum and motor cortex respectively, while all interventions with RibCys minimized and prevented the neurotoxic events. Our study demonstrates that RibCys effectively attenuates the neurotoxic effects of Mn and may be useful as a therapeutic strategy against neurological consequences of Mn overexposure.
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