Pridopidine, a dopamine stabilizer, improves motor performance and shows neuroprotective effects in Huntington disease R6/2 mouse model

Ferdinando Squitieri, Alba Di Pardo, Mariagrazia Favellato, Enrico Amico, Vittorio Maglione, Luigi Frati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Huntington disease (HD) is a neurodegenerative disorder for which new treatments are urgently needed. Pridopidine is a new dopaminergic stabilizer, recently developed for the treatment of motor symptoms associated with HD. The therapeutic effect of pridopidine in patients with HD has been determined in two double-blind randomized clinical trials, however, whether pridopidine exerts neuroprotection remains to be addressed. The main goal of this study was to define the potential neuroprotective effect of pridopidine, in HD in vivo and in vitro models, thus providing evidence that might support a potential disease-modifying action of the drug and possibly clarifying other aspects of pridopidine mode-of-action. Our data corroborated the hypothesis of neuroprotective action of pridopidine in HD experimental models. Administration of pridopidine protected cells from apoptosis, and resulted in highly improved motor performance in R6/2 mice. The anti-apoptotic effect observed in the in vitro system highlighted neuroprotective properties of the drug, and advanced the idea of sigma-1-receptor as an additional molecular target implicated in the mechanism of action of pridopidine. Coherent with protective effects, pridopidine-mediated beneficial effects in R6/2 mice were associated with an increased expression of pro-survival and neurostimulatory molecules, such as brain derived neurotrophic factor and DARPP32, and with a reduction in the size of mHtt aggregates in striatal tissues. Taken together, these findings support the theory of pridopidine as molecule with disease-modifying properties in HD and advance the idea of a valuable therapeutic strategy for effectively treating the disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2540-2548
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2015


  • BDNF
  • Huntington disease
  • Neuroprotection
  • Pridopidine
  • Sig-1R

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Molecular Medicine


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