Zigmond Laboratory

Michael J. Zigmond, PhD

Michael J. Zigmond, PhD

Professor of Neurology and Psychiatry


Michael Zigmond and his research group have long focused on issues related to Parkinson’s disease, but recently have extended their research to healthy aging by examining the neuroprotective effects of exercise, as well as enriched environments that include not only physical movement but also socialization and the novelty within the environment. We believe biological changes leading to neuroplasticity and neuroprotection due to exercise and enrichment include upregulation of neurotrophic factors and activation of the immune systems that are normally suppressed in the aged.

We complement our in vivo studies with primary cultures from various regions of the brain and are one of the few research groups that prepare cultures distinguishing dopaminergic neurons from the substantia nigra (SN) and ventral tegmental area so we can focus on SN neurons which are implicated in many of the behavioral deficits observed in patients with Parkinson’s disease. For example, we have found that multiple neurotrophic factors have an additive effect in protecting the dopaminergic neurons against certain neurotoxins.
We employ a wide variety of methods in our research including: histochemistry, tissue culture (organotypic, primary and cell lines), microscopy, HPLC analysis, ELISAs and Western blot analyses, animal surgery, generation of rodent models of PD with 6-hydroxydopamine (6OHDA) and MPTP, microdialysis and behavior testing. Our expertise in these areas also extends to consultation, collaboration, and contract work. Further information may be obtained from Michael Zigmond or Juliann Jaumotte.

MN9D cells
We provide MN9D cells to investigators. MN9D cells are a dopaminergic cell line developed in the laboratory of Alfred Heller at the University of Chicago, (Choi et al, 1992). The cells can be obtained after completion of a Material Transfer Agreement with the University of Pittsburgh. If interested in obtaining these cells please contact Juliann Jaumotte.


BS Chemical Engineering Carnegie-Mellon University
PhD Biopsychology University of Chicago
Post Doc Neuropharmacology MIT

Positions Held

Professor of Neurology University of Pittsburgh 1998-present
Professor of Psychiatry University of Pittsburgh 1983-present
Distinguished International Professor Fudan University, Shanghai Medical College 2011-present
Scientific Director University of Pittsburgh 2011-2012


Selected Publications

Parmar MS, Jaumotte JD, Zigmond MJ, Cavanaugh JE. ERK1, 2, and 5 expression
and activation in dopaminergic brain regions during postnatal development. Int J
Dev Neurosci. 2015 Nov; 46:44-50.

Jaumotte JD, Zigmond MJ. Comparison of GDF5 and GDNF as neuroprotective
factors for postnatal dopamine neurons in ventral mesencephalic cultures. J
Neurosci Res. 2014 Nov; 92 (11):1425-33.

Parmar MS, Jaumotte JD, Wyrostek SL, Zigmond MJ, Cavanaugh JE. Role of ERK1,
2, and 5 in dopamine neuron survival during aging. Neurobiol Aging. 2014
Mar; 35 (3):669-79.

Russell VA, Zigmond MJ, Dimatelis JJ, Daniels WM, Mabandla MV. The interaction
between stress and exercise, and its impact on brain function. Metab Brain Dis.
2014 Jun; 29(2):255-60.

Stetler RA, Leak RK, Gan Y, Li P, Zhang F, Hu X, Jing Z, Chen J, Zigmond MJ,
Gao Y. Preconditioning provides neuroprotection in models of CNS disease:
paradigms and clinical significance. Prog Neurobiol. 2014 Mar; 114:58-83

Mitchell AC, Leak RK, Zigmond MJ, Cameron JL, Mirnics K. Gene transcripts
associated with BMI in the motor cortex and caudate nucleus of calorie restricted
rhesus monkeys. Genomics. 2012 Mar; 99 (3):144-51.

El Ayadi A, Zigmond MJ. Low concentrations of methamphetamine can protect
dopaminergic cells against a larger oxidative stress injury: mechanistic study.
PLoS One. 2011; 6(10):e24722.

Allen E, Carlson KM, Zigmond MJ, Cavanaugh JE. L-DOPA reverses motor deficits
associated with normal aging in mice. Neurosci Lett. 2011 Feb 1; 489(1):1-4.

Cohen AD, Zigmond MJ, Smith AD. Effects of intrastriatal GDNF on the response
of dopamine neurons to 6-hydroxydopamine: time course of protection and
neurorestoration. Brain Res. 2011 Jan 25; 1370:80-8.

More publications

Lab Members