Rotenone destroys dopaminergic neurons and induces parkinsonian symptoms in rats

Behav Brain Res. 2002 Oct 17;136(1):317-24. doi: 10.1016/s0166-4328(02)00180-8.


Rotenone (an inhibitor of mitochondrial NADH dehydrogenase, a naturally occurring toxin and a commonly used pesticide) appears to reproduce the neurochemical, neuropathological and behavioural feature of Parkinson's disease (PD) in the rat. In this study, rotenone was administrated on a daily basis systemically by intraperitoneal injection of two different doses: 1.5 mg/kg (low dose) and 2.5 mg/kg (moderate dose), over a period of 2 months. This treatment caused depletion of dopamine in the posterior striatum (CPu) and prefrontal cortex and also reduced tyrosine hydroxylase-immunoreactivity in CPu. Behavioural experiments showed dose-dependent catalepsy in the two treatment groups of rats. Data from this study indicate that in rats rotenone is capable of causing degeneration of dopaminergic neurons and induction of parkinsonian symptoms. It is concluded that the causal mechanisms of neuronal degeneration implicate a complex I deficiency in the aetiology of rotenone-induced and perhaps in some cases of sporadic PD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Blotting, Western
  • Catalepsy / chemically induced
  • Catalepsy / psychology
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Dopamine / physiology*
  • Electrochemistry
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Neostriatum / pathology
  • Neostriatum / physiology
  • Neurons / drug effects*
  • Parkinson Disease, Secondary / chemically induced*
  • Parkinson Disease, Secondary / pathology
  • Prefrontal Cortex / pathology
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Rotenone / toxicity*
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase / metabolism
  • Uncoupling Agents / toxicity*


  • Uncoupling Agents
  • Rotenone
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase
  • Dopamine