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Br J Pharmacol. 2008 May;154(1):226-33. doi: 10.1038/bjp.2008.78. Epub 2008 Mar 10.

The PPARgamma agonist pioglitazone is effective in the MPTP mouse model of Parkinson's disease through inhibition of monoamine oxidase B.

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  • 1Neurology and Gastrointestinal Centre of Excellence for Drug Discovery, GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals, New Frontiers Science Park, Harlow, Essex, UK.



The peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma (PPARgamma) agonist pioglitazone has previously been shown to attenuate dopaminergic cell loss in the 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) mouse model of Parkinson's disease, an effect attributed to its anti-inflammatory properties. In the present investigation, we provide evidence that pioglitazone is effective in the MPTP mouse model, not via an anti-inflammatory action, but through inhibition of MAO-B, the enzyme required to biotransform MPTP to its active neurotoxic metabolite 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium (MPP+).


Mice were treated with pioglitazone (20 mg kg(-1) b.i.d. (twice a day), p.o., for 7 days), prior and post or post-MPTP (30 mg kg(-1) s.c.) treatment. Mice were then assessed for motor impairments on a beam-walking apparatus and for reductions in TH immunoreactivity in the substantia nigra and depletions in striatal dopamine. The effects of pioglitazone on striatal MPP+ levels and MAO-B activity were also assessed.


Mice treated with MPTP showed deficits in motor performance, marked depletions in striatal dopamine levels and a concomitant reduction in TH immunoreactivity in the substantia nigra. Pretreatment with pioglitazone completely prevented these effects of MPTP. However, pretreatment with pioglitazone also significantly inhibited the MPTP-induced production of striatal MPP+ and the activity of MAO-B in the striatum.


The neuroprotection observed with pioglitazone pretreatment in the MPTP mouse model was due to the blockade of the conversion of MPTP to its active toxic metabolite MPP+, via inhibition of MAO-B.

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