Anatomical Science International

, Volume 94, Issue 1, pp 119–127 | Cite as

Neuroprotective effect of crocin on substantia nigra in MPTP-induced Parkinson’s disease model of mice

  • Parisa Haeri
  • Abbas Mohammadipour
  • Zahra Heidari
  • Alireza Ebrahimzadeh-bideskanEmail author
Original Article


Parkinson’s disease is caused by damage to substantia nigra dopaminergic neurons. Factors such as oxidative stress, inflammatory factors, and acetylcholinesterase activity may induce this disease. On the other hand, crocin—one of the active ingredients of saffron—has anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. This study was performed to evaluate the protective effect of crocin to decrease dopaminergic neuron damage and Parkinson’s disease complications induced by 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP). A set of 24 male BALB/c Mice were divided randomly into four groups: (1) MPTP group receiving 30 mg/kg MPTP for 5 days; (2) MPTP + crocin group receiving 30 mg/kg MPTP for 5 days and 30 mg/kg crocin for 15 days; (3) NS group receiving normal saline for 5 days; and (4) NSIG group receiving normal saline intraperitoneally for 5 days and also normal saline by gavage for 15 days. After the treatment period, pole and hanging motor tests were performed in all groups. Then, the brains of all the animals were removed and fixed in formalin, prepared according to routine histologic methods and cut into sections of 5 µm thickness. Prepared sections were stained by immunohistochemistry techniques and toluidine blue to detect tyrosine-hydroxylase (TH)-positive neurons and dark neurons, respectively. Finally, the mean number of these cells were calculated by stereological methods and compared with the statistical tests in different groups. The results showed a significant increase in the time taken for the animal to fall from the pole in the MPTP group in comparison with other groups (P < 0.001). The time taken for them to stay on the wire in the hanging test decreased significantly in the MPTP group compared to the other groups (P < 0.001).,while in the MPTP + crocin group, the time to falling decreased (P < 0.05) and the time staying on the wire increased (P < 0.001) compared to the MPTP group. The number of TH-positive neurons in the MPTP group also decreased significantly in comparison with saline and MPTP + crocin groups (P < 0.001). The number of dark neuron sin the MPTP group increased significantly as compared with saline and the MPTP + Crocin groups (P < 0.001). Our results showed that crocin improves MPTP-induced Parkinson’s disease complications and decreases cell death in the substantia nigra.


Crocin Dark neuron MPTP Substantia nigra Tyrosine hydroxylase 



The data presented in this paper were elicited from an MSc student thesis and research protocol (941619), which was supported financially by the Vice Chancellor for Research, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran. Also, the authors would like to thank Mrs. Motejaded and Mrs. Tajik for their technical assistance.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Japanese Association of Anatomists 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Parisa Haeri
    • 1
  • Abbas Mohammadipour
    • 1
  • Zahra Heidari
    • 1
  • Alireza Ebrahimzadeh-bideskan
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, School of MedicineMashhad University of Medical SciencesMashhadIran
  2. 2.Microanatomy Research Center, School of MedicineMashhad University of Medical SciencesMashhadIran

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