Tribolium castaneum as a whole‐animal screening system for the detection and characterization of neuroprotective substances
Parkinson's disease (PD) is a movement disorder caused by the progressive loss of dopaminergic neurons. Natural antioxidants and plant extracts with neuroprotective properties offer a promising new therapeutic approach for PD patients, but a suitable large‐scale screening system is required for their discovery and preclinical analysis. Here we used the red flour beetle (Tribolium castaneum ) as a whole‐animal screening system for the detection and characterization of neuroprotective substances. Paraquat was added to the diet of adult beetles to induce PD‐like symptoms, which were quantified using a novel positive geotaxis behavioral assay. These paraquat‐induced behavioral changes were reduced in beetles fed on diets supplemented with l‐dihydroxyphenylalanine, ascorbic acid, curcumin, hempseed flour, or the Chinese herb gou‐teng. T. castaneum is, therefore, a valuable model for the screening of neuroprotective substances in chemical libraries and plant extracts and could be developed as a model for the preclinical testing of therapeutic candidates for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as PD.