Animal models of Parkinson's disease

Fabio Blandini, Marie Therese Armentero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Animal models of Parkinson's disease (PD) have been widely used in the past four decades to investigate the pathogenesis and pathophysiology of this neurodegenerative disorder. These models have been classically based on the systemic or local (intracerebral) administration of neutoxins that are able to replicate most of the pathological and phenotypic features of PD in mammals (i.e. rodents or primates). In the last decade, the advent of the 'genetic era' of PD has provided a phenomenal enrichment of the research possibilities in this field, with the development of various mammalian (mice and, more recently, rats) and non-mammalian transgenic models that replicate most of the disease-causing mutations identified for monogenic forms of familial PD. Both toxic and transgenic classes of animal PD models have their own specificities and limitations, which must be carefully taken into consideration when choosing the model to be used. If a substantial and reproducible nigrostriatal lesion is required (e.g. for testing therapeutic interventions aimed at counteracting PD-related cell death), a classic toxic model such as one based on the administration of 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine or 6-hydroxydopamine will adequately serve the purpose. On the other hand, if selected molecular mechanisms of PD pathogenesis must be investigated, transgenic models will offer invaluable insights. Therefore, until the 'perfect' model is developed, indications to use one model or another will depend on the specific objectives that are being pursued.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1156-1166
Number of pages11
JournalFEBS Journal
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2012


  • α-synuclein
  • 6-OHDA
  • Lewy bodies
  • MPTP
  • non-mammalian models
  • Parkinson's disease
  • pesticides
  • substantia nigra
  • toxic models
  • transgenic models

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Molecular Biology


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