Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Mirtazapine has a therapeutic potency in 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP)-induced mice model of Parkinson’s disease

Naoto Kadoguchi, Shinji Okabe, Yukio Yamamura, Misaki Shono, Tatsuya Fukano, Akie Tanabe, Hironori Yokoyama and Jiro Kasahara*

Author Affiliations

Department of Neurobiology and Therapeutics, Institute of Health Bioscience, Graduate School and Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, The University of Tokushima, 1-78, Shoumachi, Tokushima 770-8505, Japan

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Neuroscience 2014, 15:79  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-15-79

Published: 25 June 2014



Mirtazapine, a noradrenergic and specific serotonergic antidepressant (NaSSA), shows multiple pharmacological actions such as inhibiting presynaptic α2 noradrenaline receptor (NAR) and selectively activating 5-hydroxytriptamine (5-HT) 1A receptor (5-HT1AR). Mirtazapine was also reported to increase dopamine release in the cortical neurons with 5-HT dependent manner. To examine whether mirtazapine has a therapeutic potency in Parkinson’s disease (PD), we examined this compound in 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP)-treated mice model of PD.


Male C57BL/6 mice were subjected to MPTP treatment to establish a PD model. Mirtazapine was administered once a day for 3 days after MPTP treatment. MPTP-induced motor dysfunction, assessed by beam-walking and rota-rod tests, was significantly improved by administration of mirtazapine. Biochemical examinations by high performance liquid chromatography and western blot analysis suggested mirtazapine facilitated utilization of dopamine by increasing turnover and protein expression of transporters, without affecting on neurodegenerative process by MPTP. These therapeutic effects of mirtazapine were reduced by administration of WAY100635, an inhibitor for 5HT1AR, or of clonidine, a selective agonist for α2-NAR, or of prazosin, an inhibitor for α1-NAR, respectively.


Our results showed mirtazapine had a therapeutic potency against PD in a mouse model. Because PD patients sometimes show depression together, it will be a useful drug for a future PD treatment.

1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP); Parkinson’s disease; Mirtazapine; Noradrenergic and specific serotonergic antidepressant (NaSSA); Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT); Dopamine