Cellular and molecular actions of Methylene Blue in the nervous system

Med Res Rev. 2011 Jan;31(1):93-117. doi: 10.1002/med.20177.


Methylene Blue (MB), following its introduction to biology in the 19th century by Ehrlich, has found uses in various areas of medicine and biology. At present, MB is the first line of treatment in methemoglobinemias, is used frequently in the treatment of ifosfamide-induced encephalopathy, and is routinely employed as a diagnostic tool in surgical procedures. Furthermore, recent studies suggest that MB has beneficial effects in Alzheimer's disease and memory improvement. Although the modulation of the cGMP pathway is considered the most significant effect of MB, mediating its pharmacological actions, recent studies indicate that it has multiple cellular and molecular targets. In the majority of cases, biological effects and clinical applications of MB are dictated by its unique physicochemical properties including its planar structure, redox chemistry, ionic charges, and light spectrum characteristics. In this review article, these physicochemical features and the actions of MB on multiple cellular and molecular targets are discussed with regard to their relevance to the nervous system.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / drug therapy*
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Ifosfamide / adverse effects
  • Methemoglobinemia / drug therapy
  • Methylene Blue / chemistry*
  • Methylene Blue / therapeutic use*
  • Neurons / metabolism


  • Methylene Blue
  • Ifosfamide