Planarians in pharmacology: parthenolide is a specific behavioral antagonist of cocaine in the planarian Girardia tigrina

Int J Dev Biol. 2012;56(1-3):193-6. doi: 10.1387/ijdb.113486op.


Planarians are traditional animal models in developmental and regeneration biology. Recently, these organisms are arising as vertebrate-relevant animal models in neuropharmacology. Using an adaptation of published behavioral protocols, we have described the alleviation of cocaine-induced planarian seizure-like movements (pSLM) by a naturally-occurring sesquiterpene lactone, parthenolide. Interestingly, parthenolide does not prevent the expression of pSLM induced by amphetamines; in vertebrates, amphetamines interact with the same protein target as cocaine. Parthenolide is also unable to prevent pSLM elicited by the cholinergic com-pounds nicotine and cytisine or by the glutamatergic agents L- or D- glutamic acid or NMDA. Thus, we conclude that parthenolide is a specific anti-cocaine agent in this experimental organism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects*
  • Cocaine / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Cocaine / toxicity*
  • Dopamine Uptake Inhibitors / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Dopamine Uptake Inhibitors / toxicity
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Agonists / toxicity
  • Methamphetamine / toxicity
  • N-Methylaspartate / toxicity
  • Nicotine / toxicity
  • Nicotinic Agonists / toxicity
  • Planarians / cytology
  • Planarians / drug effects*
  • Regeneration / drug effects
  • Seizures / chemically induced
  • Seizures / drug therapy*
  • Sesquiterpenes / therapeutic use*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Dopamine Uptake Inhibitors
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Agonists
  • Nicotinic Agonists
  • Sesquiterpenes
  • parthenolide
  • Methamphetamine
  • N-Methylaspartate
  • Nicotine
  • Cocaine