Anxiolytic profile of ropinirole in the rat, mouse and common marmoset

Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2000 Jul;151(1):91-7. doi: 10.1007/s002130000485.


Rationale: Some features of Parkinson's disease are exacerbated by stress and anxiety and it is important to understand the effects of dopamine receptor agonists on measures of anxiety. The aim of this study was to assess the effects of the dopamine D2/D3 receptor agonist ropinirole in models of anxiety and depression in the rat, mouse and marmoset.

Results: In the rat elevated plus-maze test, ropinirole (0.01-1 mg/kg, i.p.) produced an inverted-U dose-response curve in the percentage time spent in the open arms. Compared with vehicle, ropinirole (0.1 mg/kg) had a significant anxiolytic-like effect, which was similar to that observed with 1.5 mg/kg diazepam. This effect was found at doses that did not affect motor behaviour or induce stereotypy. In the mouse black and white box test of anxiety, ropinirole (0.1-10 mg/kg, i.p.) increased both the rearing time and number of line crosses in the white section. This effect reached statistical significance for both measures at a dose of 0.1 mg/kg and suggests an anxiolytic-like action of the compound. By contrast, the dopamine agonist bromocriptine (0.1-10 mg/kg, i.p.) did not produce significant changes in these behaviours. In the marmoset human threat test, ropinirole (0.01-10 microg/kg, s.c.) reduced the number of postures at all doses tested and this reached statistical significance at 10 microg/kg. Ropinirole did not compromise the effect of amitriptyline in the Porsolt test of depression and in itself produced antidepressant-like effects.

Conclusions: These data demonstrate that systemic administration of ropinirole produces anxiolytic-like effects in three separate models in the mouse, rat and marmoset. This may predict an action of ropinirole in man that would provide a superior profile of action over other presently available anti-parkinsonian agents.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / pharmacology*
  • Callithrix
  • Dopamine Agonists / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Indoles / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Maze Learning / drug effects*
  • Mice
  • Motor Activity / drug effects*
  • Rats
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2 / metabolism
  • Receptors, Dopamine D3
  • Stereotyped Behavior / drug effects


  • Anti-Anxiety Agents
  • DRD3 protein, human
  • Dopamine Agonists
  • Drd3 protein, mouse
  • Drd3 protein, rat
  • Indoles
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2
  • Receptors, Dopamine D3
  • ropinirole