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Journal: Journal of pineal research


Chemotherapy-induced neuropathic pain is a debilitating and common side effect of cancer treatment. Mitochondrial dysfunction associated with oxidative stress in peripheral nerves has been implicated in the underlying mechanism. We investigated the potential of melatonin, a potent antioxidant that preferentially acts within mitochondria, to reduce mitochondrial damage and neuropathic pain resulting from the chemotherapeutic drug paclitaxel. In vitro, paclitaxel caused a 50% reduction of mitochondrial membrane potential and metabolic rate, independent of concentration (20-100μM). Mitochondrial volume was increased dose-dependently by paclitaxel (200% increase at 100μM). These effects were prevented by co-treatment with 1μM melatonin. Paclitaxel cytotoxicity against cancer cells was not affected by co-exposure to 1μM melatonin of either the breast cancer cell line MCF-7, or the ovarian carcinoma cell line A2780. In a rat model of paclitaxel-induced painful peripheral neuropathy, pre-treatment with oral melatonin (5/10/50mg/kg), given as a daily bolus dose, was protective, dose-dependently limiting development of mechanical hypersensitivity (19/43/47% difference from paclitaxel control, respectively). Melatonin (10mg/kg/day) was similarly effective when administered continuously in drinking water (39% difference). Melatonin also reduced paclitaxel-induced elevated 8-isoprostane F2 α levels in peripheral nerves (by 22% in sciatic; 41% in saphenous) and limited paclitaxel-induced reduction of C fibre activity-dependent slowing (by 64%). Notably melatonin limited the development of mechanical hypersensitivity in both male and female animals (by 50/41%, respectively) and an additive effect was found when melatonin was given with the current treatment, duloxetine (75/62% difference, respectively). Melatonin is therefore a potential treatment to limit the development of painful neuropathy resulting from chemotherapy treatment. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Concepts: Immune system, Cancer, Breast cancer, Metastasis, Oncology, Chemotherapy, Pain, Peripheral neuropathy


Intestinal epithelial intercellular tight junctions (TJs) provide a rate-limiting barrier restricting passive transepithelial movement of solutes. TJs are highly dynamic areas, and their permeability is changed in response to various stimuli. Defects in the intestinal epithelial TJ barrier may contribute to intestinal inflammation or leaky gut. The gastrointestinal tract may be the largest extrapineal source of endogenous melatonin. Melatonin released from the duodenal mucosa is a potent stimulant of duodenal mucosal bicarbonate secretion (DBS). The aim of this study was to elucidate the role of melatonin in regulating duodenal mucosal barrier functions, including mucosal permeability, DBS, net fluid flux, and duodenal motor activity, in the living animal. Rats were anesthetized with thiobarbiturate, and a ~30-mm segment of the proximal duodenum with an intact blood supply was perfused in situ. Melatonin and the selective melatonin receptor antagonist luzindole were perfused luminally or given intravenously. Effects on permeability (blood-to-lumen clearance of Cr-EDTA), DBS, mucosal net fluid flux, and duodenal motility were monitored. Luminal melatonin caused a rapid decrease in paracellular permeability and an increase in DBS, but had no effect on duodenal motor activity or net fluid flux. Luzindole did not influence any of the basal parameters studied, but significantly inhibited the effects of melatonin. The nonselective and noncompetitive nicotinic acetylcholine receptor antagonist mecamylamine abolished the effect of melatonin on duodenal permeability and reduced that on DBS. In conclusion, these findings provide evidence that melatonin significantly decreases duodenal mucosal paracellular permeability and increases DBS. The data support the important role of melatonin in the neurohumoral regulation of duodenal mucosal barrier.

Concepts: Nicotine, Acetylcholine, Myasthenia gravis, Muscarinic acetylcholine receptor, Nicotinic acetylcholine receptor, Acetylcholine receptor, Duodenum, Mecamylamine


Disruption of circadian rhythm by means of shift work has been associated with cardiovascular disease in humans. However, causality and underlying mechanisms have not yet been established. In this study, we exposed hyperlipidemic APOE*3-Leiden.CETP mice to either regular light-dark cycles, weekly 6 h phase advances or delays, or weekly alternating-light dark cycles (12 h shifts), as a well-established model for shift work. We found that mice exposed to 15 weeks of alternating light-dark cycles displayed a striking increase in atherosclerosis, with an approximately two-fold increase in lesion size and severity, while mice exposed to phase advances and delays showed a milder circadian disruption and no significant effect on atherosclerosis development. We observed a higher lesion macrophage content in mice exposed to alternating light-dark cycles without obvious changes in plasma lipids, suggesting involvement of the immune system. Moreover, while no changes in the number or activation status of circulating monocytes and other immune cells were observed, we identified increased markers for inflammation, oxidative stress and chemoattraction in the vessel wall. Altogether, this is the first study to show that circadian disruption by shifting light-dark cycles directly aggravates atherosclerosis development.


Astronauts experience osteoporosis-like loss of bone mass because of microgravity conditions during space flight. To prevent bone loss, they need a riskless and antiresorptive drug. Melatonin is reported to suppress osteoclast function. However, no studies have examined the effects of melatonin on bone metabolism under microgravity conditions. We used goldfish scales as a bone model of coexisting osteoclasts and osteoblasts and demonstrated that mRNA expression level of N-acetylserotonin O-methyltransferase, an enzyme essential for melatonin synthesis, decreased significantly under microgravity. During space flight, microgravity stimulated osteoclastic activity and significantly increased gene expression for osteoclast differentiation and activation. Melatonin treatment significantly stimulated Calcitonin (an osteoclast-inhibiting hormone) mRNA expression and decreased the mRNA expression of receptor activator of nuclear factor κB ligand (a promoter of osteoclastogenesis), which coincided with suppressed gene expression levels for osteoclast functions. This is the first study to report the inhibitory effect of melatonin on osteoclastic activation by microgravity. We also observed a novel action pathway of melatonin on osteoclasts via an increase in CALCITONIN secretion. Melatonin could be the source of a potential novel drug to prevent bone loss during space flight. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.


The purpose of this report is to emphasize the potential utility for the use of melatonin in the treatment of individuals who are infected with the Ebola virus. The pathological changes associated with an Ebola infection include, most notably, endothelial disruption, disseminated intravascular coagulation and multiple organ hemorrhage. Melatonin has been shown to target these alterations. Numerous similarities between Ebola virus infection and septic shock have been recognized for more than a decade. Moreover, melatonin has been successfully employed for the treatment of sepsis in many experimental and clinical studies. Based on these factors, as the number of treatments currently available is limited and the useable products are not abundant, the use of melatonin for the treatment of Ebola virus infection is encouraged. Additionally, melatonin has a high safety profile, is readily available and can be orally self-administered; thus, the use of melatonin is compatible with the large scale of this serious outbreak.

Concepts: Inflammation, Coagulation, Shock, Septic shock, Disseminated intravascular coagulation, Ebola, Viral hemorrhagic fever, Malaise


Melatonin limits obesity in rodents without affecting food intake and activity, suggesting a thermogenic effect. Identification of brown fat (beige/brite) in white adipose tissue (WAT) prompted us to investigate whether melatonin is a brown-fat inducer. We used Zücker diabetic fatty (ZDF) rats, a model of obesity-related type 2 diabetes and a strain in which melatonin reduces obesity and improves their metabolic profiles. At 5 wk of age, ZDF rats and lean littermates (ZL) were subdivided into two groups, each composed of four rats: control and those treated with oral melatonin in the drinking water (10 mg/kg/day) for 6 wk. Melatonin induced browning of inguinal WAT in both ZDF and ZL rats. Hematoxylin-eosin staining showed patches of brown-like adipocytes in inguinal WAT in ZDF rats and also increased the amounts in ZL animals. Inguinal skin temperature was similar in untreated lean and obese rats. Melatonin increased inguinal temperature by 1.36 ± 0.02°C in ZL and by 0.55 ± 0.04°C in ZDF rats and sensitized the thermogenic effect of acute cold exposure in both groups. Melatonin increased the amounts of thermogenic proteins, uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) (by ~2-fold, P < 0.01) and PGC-1α (by 25%, P < 0.05) in extracts from beige inguinal areas in ZL rats. Melatonin also induced measurable amounts of UCP1 and stimulated by ~2-fold the levels of PGC-1α in ZDF animals. Locomotor activity and circulating irisin levels were not affected by melatonin. These results demonstrate that chronic oral melatonin drives WAT into a brown-fat-like function in ZDF rats. This may contribute to melatonin's control of body weight and its metabolic benefits.

Concepts: Nutrition, Diabetes mellitus, Obesity, Fat, Insulin resistance, Adipose tissue, Brown adipose tissue, Thermogenesis


Melatonin promotes sleep. However, the underlying mechanisms are unknown. Orexin neurons in the perifornical lateral-hypothalamus (PFH) are pivotal for wake-promotion. Does melatonin promote sleep by inhibiting orexin neurons? We used C57BL/6J mice and designed four experiments to address this question. Experiment 1 used double-labeled immunofluorescence and examined the presence of melatonin receptors on orexin neurons. Second, mice, implanted with bilateral guides targeted toward PFH, and sleep-recording electrodes, were infused with melatonin (500 pmole/50 nl/side) at dark onset (onset of active period) and spontaneous bouts of sleep-wakefulness were examined. Third, mice, implanted with bilateral guides into the PFH, were infused with melatonin (500 pmole/50 nl/side) at dark onset and euthanized two hours later, to examine activation of orexin neurons using c-Fos expression in orexin neurons. Fourth, mice, implanted with PFH bilateral guides and sleep- recording electrodes, were infused with melatonin receptor antagonist, luzindole, (10pmol/50 nL/side) at lights-onset (onset of sleep period) and spontaneous bouts of sleep-wakefulness were examined. Our results suggests that orexin neurons express MT1, but not MT2 receptors. Melatonin infusion into the PFH, at dark onset, site-specifically and significantly increased NREM sleep (43.7%, p=0.003) and reduced wakefulness (12.3%, p=0.013). Local melatonin infusion at dark-onset inhibited orexin neurons as evident by a significant reduction (66%, p=0.0004) in the number of orexin neurons expressing c-Fos. Finally, luzindole infusion induced blockade of melatonin receptors in PFH, at sleep onset significantly increased wakefulness (44.1%, p=0.015). Based on these results we suggest that melatonin may act via the MT1 receptors to inhibit orexin neurons and promote sleep. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Concepts: Hormone, Receptor, Ligand, Receptor antagonist, Inverse agonist, Copyright, Melatonin receptor, Schild regression


Melatonin limits obesity in rodents without affecting food intake and activity, suggesting a thermogenic effect. Previously we demonstrated that melatonin browns subcutaneous fat in Zücker diabetic fatty (ZDF) rats. Other works pointed to melatonin as a signal that increases brown adipose tissue (BAT) mass and function in rodents. However, direct proof of thermogenic properties (uncoupled mitochondria) of the newly recruited BAT in response to melatonin is still lacking. Therefore, in the present work we investigated if melatonin recruits thermogenic BAT in ZDF rats. Zücker lean (ZL) and ZDF animals were subdivided into two groups, control © and treated with oral melatonin (M) for 6 weeks. Mitochondrial mass, activity of citrate synthase (CS) and respiratory chain complexes I and IV were lower in C-ZDF than in C-ZL animals (P < 0.001). Melatonin treatment increased BAT weight in ZDF rats (P < 0.001). Also, it rose mitochondrial mass (P < 0.01) and activities of CS and complexes I and IV (P < 0.001) in both, ZDF and ZL rats. Uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) mRNA and protein were 50% lower in BAT from obese rats. Also, guanosine diphosphate (GDP) binding was lower in ZDF than in lean rats (P< 0.01). Melatonin treatment of obese rats restored the expression of UCP1 and GDP binding to levels of lean rats, and sensitized the thermogenic response to cold exposure. These data demonstrated that melatonin recruits thermogenic BAT in ZDF rats. This may contribute to melatonin's control of body weight and its metabolic benefits. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Concepts: Nutrition, Mitochondrion, Obesity, Oxidative phosphorylation, Cellular respiration, Adipose tissue, Electron transport chain, Thermogenesis


Oxaliplatin, an organoplatinum compound, is used in the treatment of colorectal cancer, but its clinical use can be limited due to the development of peripheral neuropathy. Whilst mitochondrial dysfunction has been implicated as a major pathomechanism for oxaliplatin-induced neurotoxicity, the prevention of autophagy may also aggravate neuronal cell death. Melatonin, a well-known mitoprotectant and autophagy inducer, was used to examine its neuroprotective role in oxaliplatin-induced peripheral neuropathy (OIPN). Melatonin prevented the loss of mitochondrial membrane potential (Ψm) and promoted neuritogenesis in oxaliplatin challenged neuro-2a cells. It did not interfere with the cytotoxic activity of oxaliplatin in human colon cancer cell line, HT-29. Melatonin treatment significantly alleviated oxaliplatin-induced pain behaviour and neuropathic deficits in rats. It also ameliorated nitro-oxidative stress mediated by oxaliplatin thus prevented nitrosylation of proteins and loss of antioxidant enzymes. Therefore, improved mitochondrial electron transport chain function and maintained the cellular bioenergetics by improving the ATP levels. The protective effects of melatonin were attributed to preventing oxaliplatin-induced neuronal apoptosis by increasing autophagy pathway (via LC3A/3B) in peripheral nerves and dorsal root ganglion (DRG). Hence, preserved the epidermal nerve fiber density in oxaliplatin-induced neuropathic rats. Taken together, we provide evidence for the neuroprotective potential of melatonin which may have the translational potential for oxaliplatin-induced neuropathy. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Concepts: Nervous system, Cell, Bacteria, Metabolism, Adenosine triphosphate, Mitochondrion, Oxidative phosphorylation, Colorectal cancer


Melatonin is an old and ubiquitous molecule in nature showing multiple mechanisms of action and functions in practically every living organism. In mammals, pineal melatonin function as a hormone and a chronobiotic, playing a major role in the regulation of the circadian temporal internal order. The anti-obesogen and the weight-reducing effects of melatonin depend on several mechanisms and actions. Experimental evidence demonstrates that melatonin is necessary for the proper synthesis, secretion and action of insulin. Melatonin acts by regulating GLUT4 expression and/or triggering, via its G-protein-coupled membrane receptors, the phosphorylation of the insulin receptor and its intracellular substrates mobilizing the insulin-signaling pathway. Melatonin is a powerful chronobiotic being responsible, in part, by the daily distribution of metabolic processes so that the activity/feeding phase of the day is associated to high insulin sensitivity and the rest/fasting is synchronized to the insulin resistant metabolic phase of the day. Furthermore, melatonin is responsible for the establishment of an adequate energy balance mainly by regulating energy flow to and from the stores and directly regulating the energy expenditure through the activation of brown adipose tissue and participating in the browning process of white adipose tissue. The reduction in melatonin production, as during aging, shift-work or illuminated environments during the night, induces insulin resistance, glucose intolerance, sleep disturbance and metabolic circadian disorganization characterizing a state of chronodisruption leading to obesity. The available evidence supports the suggestion that melatonin replacement therapy might contribute to restore a more healthy state of the organism. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Concepts: Signal transduction, Metabolism, Insulin, Diabetes mellitus, Hormone, Obesity, Insulin resistance, Adipose tissue