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Deficiencies in adult hippocampal neurogenesis have been suggested to be a possible pathophysiological mechanism that underlies depressive symptoms that are often observed in patients with Parkinson's disease (PD). Pioglitazone, a selective peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPAR-γ) agonist, has been shown to exert antiinflammatory and antidepressant effects and modulate neural plasticity in several neurodegenerative disorders. The present study investigated the effects of pioglitazone on depressive phenotypes and adult hippocampal neurogenesis in a rat model of PD that was induced by bilateral 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) infusions in the substantia nigra pars compact (SNpc). Rats with SNpc and ventral tegmental area (VTA) neurodegeneration exhibited despair-like behavior, concomitant with persistent microglial activation in the hippocampus. Pioglitazone reduced the rate of mortality and attenuated microglial activation in the early phase of 6-OHDA-induced nigral lesions. Pioglitazone exerted antidepressant-like effects and increased the survival of neurons in the hippocampus in rats with nigral lesions. These results indicate that pioglitazone exerts neuroprotective effects by facilitating hippocampal neurogenesis in 6-OHDA-lesioned rats, which might contribute to its antidepressant-like effect.Pioglitazone reduces the rate of mortality of rats with bilateral 6-OHDA nigral lesions.Pioglitazone attenuates microglial activation in the early phase of 6-OHDA-induced nigral lesions.Pioglitazone exerts antidepressant-like effects in rats with bilateral 6-OHDA nigral lesions.Pioglitazone increases neuron survival in the hippocampus of rats with bilateral 6-OHDA nigral lesions.