Dopamine agonists exert Nurr1‑inducing effect in peripheral blood mononuclear cells of patients with Parkinson’s disease

Li Min Zhang, Cong Cong Sun, Ming Shu Mo, Luan Cen, Lei Wei, Fei Fei Luo, Yi Li, Guo Fei Li, Si Yun Zhang, Li Yi, Wei Huang, Zhuo Lin Liu, Wei Dong Le, Ping Yi Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Background: Nurr1 plays an essential role in the development, survival, and function maintenance of midbrain dopaminergic (DA) neurons, and it is a potential target for Parkinson’s disease (PD). Nurr1 mRNA can be detected in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), but whether there is any association of altered Nurr1 expression in PBMC with the disease and DA drug treatments remains elusive. This study aimed to measure the Nurr1 mRNA level in PBMC and evaluate the effect of Nurr1 expression by DA agents in vivo and in vitro. Methods: The mRNA levels of Nurr1 in PBMC of four subgroups of 362 PD patients and 193 healthy controls (HCs) using real‑time polymerase chain reaction were measured. The nonparametric Mann-Whitney U‑test and Kruskal-Wallis test were performed to evaluate the differences between PD and HC, as well as the subgroups of PD. Multivariate linear regression analysis was used to evaluate the independent association of Nurr1 expression with Hoehn and Yahr scale, age, and drug treatments. Besides, the Nurr1 expression in cultured PBMC was measured to determine whether DA agonist pramipexole affects its mRNA level. Results: The relative Nurr1 mRNA levels in DA agonists treated subgroup were significant higher than those in recent‑onset cases without any anti‑PD treatments (de novo) (P < 0.001) and HC groups (P < 0.010), respectively. Furthermore, the increase in Nurr1 mRNA expression was seen in DA agonist and L‑dopa group. Multivariate linear regression showed DA agonists, L‑dopa, and DA agonists were independent predictors correlated with Nurr1 mRNA expression level in PBMC. In vitro, in the cultured PBMC treated with 10 μmol/L pramipexole, the Nurr1 mRNA levels were significantly increased by 99.61%, 71.75%, 73.16% in 2, 4, and 8 h, respectively (P < 0.001). Conclusions: DA agonists can induce Nurr1 expression in PBMC, and such effect may contribute to DA agonists‑mediated neuroprotection on DA neurons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1755-1760
Number of pages6
JournalChinese Medical Journal
Issue number13
StatePublished - 2015


  • Dopamine agonists
  • Nurr1
  • Parkinson’s disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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