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September 2013

Melatonin antioxidative defense: therapeutical implications for aging and neurodegenerative processes.

The pineal product melatonin has remarkable antioxidant properties. It is secreted during darkness and plays a key role in various physiological responses including regulation of circadian rhythms, sleep homeostasis, retinal neuromodulation, and vasomotor responses. It scavenges hydroxyl, carbonate, and various organic radicals as well as a number of reactive nitrogen species. Melatonin also enhances the antioxidant potential of the cell by stimulating the synthesis of antioxidant enzymes including superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase, and glutathione reductase, and by augmenting glutathione levels. Melatonin preserves mitochondrial homeostasis, reduces free radical generation and protects mitochondrial ATP synthesis by stimulating Complexes I and IV activities. The decline in melatonin production in aged individuals has been suggested as one of the primary contributing factors for the development of age-associated neurodegenerative diseases. The efficacy of melatonin in preventing oxidative damage in either cultured neuronal cells or in the brains of animals treated with various neurotoxic agents, suggests that melatonin has a potential therapeutic value as a neuroprotective drug in treatment of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Parkinson’s disease (PD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Huntington’s disease (HD), stroke, and brain trauma. Therapeutic trials with melatonin indicate that it has a potential therapeutic value as a neuroprotective drug in treatment of AD, ALS, and HD. In the case of other neurological conditions, like PD, the evidence is less compelling. Melatonin’s efficacy in combating free radical damage in the brain suggests that it can be a valuable therapeutic agent in the treatment of cerebral edema following traumatic brain injury or stroke. Clinical trials employing melatonin doses in the range of 50-100 mg/day are warranted before its relative merits as a neuroprotective agent is definitively established.

Neurotox Res. 2013 Apr;23(3):267-300

Clinical aspects of melatonin intervention in Alzheimer’s disease progression.

Melatonin secretion decreases in Alzheimer´s disease (AD) and this decrease has been postulated as responsible for the circadian disorganization, decrease in sleep efficiency and impaired cognitive function seen in those patients. Half of severely ill AD patients develop chronobiological day-night rhythm disturbances like an agitated behavior during the evening hours (so-called “sundowning”). Melatonin replacement has been shown effective to treat sundowning and other sleep wake disorders in AD patients. The antioxidant, mitochondrial and antiamyloidogenic effects of melatonin indicate its potentiality to interfere with the onset of the disease. This is of particularly importance in mild cognitive impairment (MCI), an etiologically heterogeneous syndrome that precedes dementia. The aim of this manuscript was to assess published evidence of the efficacy of melatonin to treat AD and MCI patients. PubMed was searched using Entrez for articles including clinical trials and published up to 15 January 2010. Search terms were “Alzheimer” and “melatonin”. Full publications were obtained and references were checked for additional material where appropriate. Only clinical studies with empirical treatment data were reviewed. The analysis of published evidence made it possible to postulate melatonin as a useful ad-on therapeutic tool in MCI. In the case of AD, larger randomized controlled trials are necessary to yield evidence of effectiveness (i.e. clinical and subjective relevance) before melatonin´s use can be advocated.

Curr Neuropharmacol. 2010 Sep;8(3):218-27

Therapeutic application of melatonin in mild cognitive impairment.

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is an etiologically heterogeneous syndrome defined by cognitive impairment in advance of dementia. We previously reported in a retrospective analysis that daily 3 - 9 mg of a fast-release melatonin preparation given p. o. at bedtime for up to 3 years significantly improved cognitive and emotional performance and daily sleep/wake cycle in MCI patients. In a follow up of that study we now report data from another series of 96 MCI outpatients, 61 of who had received daily 3 - 24 mg of a fast-release melatonin preparation p. o. at bedtime for 15 to 60 months. Melatonin was given in addition to the standard medication prescribed by the attending psychiatrist. Patients treated with melatonin exhibited significantly better performance in Mini-Mental State Examination and the cognitive subscale of the Alzheimer’s disease Assessment Scale. After application of a neuropsychological battery comprising a Mattis´ test, Digit-symbol test, Trail A and B tasks and the Rey´s verbal test, better performance was found in melatonin-treated patients for every parameter tested. Abnormally high Beck Depression Inventory scores decreased in melatonin-treated patients, concomitantly with the improvement in the quality of sleep and wakefulness. The comparison of the medication profile in both groups of MCI patients indicated that 9.8% in the melatonin group received benzodiazepines vs. 62.8% in the non-melatonin group. The results further support that melatonin can be a useful add-on drug for treating MCI in a clinic environment.

Am J Neurodegener Dis. 2012;1(3):280-91

Effect of chronic L-dopa or melatonin treatments after dopamine deafferentation in rats: dyskinesia, motor performance, and cytological analysis.

The present study examines the ability of melatonin to protect striatal dopaminergic loss induced by 6-OHDA in a rat model of Parkinson’s disease, comparing the results with L-DOPA-treated rats. The drugs were administered orally daily for a month, their therapeutic or dyskinetic effects were assessed by means of abnormal involuntary movements (AIMs) and stepping ability. At the cellular level, the response was evaluated using tyrosine hydroxylase immunoreactivity and striatal ultrastructural changes to compare between L-DOPA-induced AIMs and Melatonin-treated rats. Our findings demonstrated that chronic oral administration of Melatonin improved the alterations caused by the neurotoxin 6-OHDA. Melatonin-treated animals perform better in the motor tasks and had no dyskinetic alterations compared to L-DOPA-treated group. At the cellular level, we found that Melatonin-treated rats showed more TH-positive neurons and their striatal ultrastructure was well preserved. Thus, Melatonin is a useful treatment to delay the cellular and behavioral alterations observed in Parkinson’s disease.

ISRN Neurol. 2012;2012:360379

Pineal Calcification is Associated with Symptomatic Cerebral Infarction.

BACKGROUND: Pineal calcification and low melatonin have been shown to be risk factors for stroke in animal studies; however, there are limited clinical data on the association of pineal calcification and stroke in humans. METHODS: All computed tomographic (CT) scans of the brains of patients >15 years of age during the year 2011 at a university teaching hospital were retrospectively reviewed. Patient medical charts were used to obtain the risk factors for stroke, including diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, age, and sex. Cerebral infarction was identified by having clinical syndromes of stroke and a positive CT scan. Patients with embolic or hemorrhagic stroke were excluded. Pineal calcification was evidenced by the CT scans. The association of various stroke risk factors and cerebral infarction were calculated using logistic regression analysis. RESULTS: A total of 1,614 patients were included, and symptomatic cerebral infarction was identified in 620 patients (38.4%). Regarding stroke risk factors in symptomatic cerebral infarction patients, the majority of patients were male (356 [57.4%]), >50 years of age (525 [84.7%]), and had hypertension (361 [58.2%]); some had diabetes (199 [32.1%]) and dyslipidemia (174 [28.1%]). Pineal calcification was found in 1081 patients (67.0%), with a male:female ratio of 1.5:1. Significant factors related to cerebral infarction by univariate logistic regression were age >50 years, hypertension, diabetes, dyslipidemia, and pineal calcification. Pineal calcification as a risk factor for cerebral infarction had an adjusted odds ratio of 1.35 (95% confidence interval 1.05-1.72). CONCLUSIONS: Pineal calcification may be a potential new contributor to cerebral infarction.

J Stroke Cerebrovasc Dis. 2013 Feb 20

Melatonin decreases matrix metalloproteinase-9 activation and expression and attenuates reperfusion-induced hemorrhage following transient focal cerebral ischemia in rats.

We have previously shown that melatonin reduces postischemic rises in the blood-brain barrier (BBB) permeability and improves neurovascular dysfunction and hemorrhagic transformation following ischemic stroke. It is known that activation of the matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) plays a crucial role in the pathogenesis of brain edema and hemorrhagic transformation after ischemic stroke. We, herein, investigated whether melatonin would ameliorate MMP-2 and MMP-9 activation and expression in a rat model of transient focal cerebral ischemia. Adult male Sprague-Dawley rats were subjected to a 90-min middle cerebral artery (MCA) occlusion using an intraluminal filament. Melatonin (5 mg/kg) or vehicle was intravenously injected upon reperfusion. Brain infarction and hemorrhage within infarcts were measured, and neurological deficits were scored. The activity and expression of MMP-2 and MMP-9 were determined by zymography, in situ zymography and Western immunoblot analysis. Cerebral ischemia-reperfusion induced increased pro-MMP-9 and MMP-9 activity and expression 24 hr after reperfusion onset. Relative to controls, melatonin-treated animals, however, had significantly reduced levels in the MMP-9 activity and expression (P < 0.01), in addition to reduced brain infarct volume and hemorrhagic transformation as well as improved sensorimotor neurobehavioral outcomes. No significant change in MMP-2 activity was observed throughout the course experiments. Our results indicate that the melatonin-mediated reductions in ischemic brain damage and reperfusion-induced hemorrhage are partly attributed to its ability to reduce postischemic MMP-9 activation and increased expression, and further support the fact that melatonin is a suitable as an add-on to thrombolytic therapy for ischemic stroke patients.

J Pineal Res. 2008 Nov;45(4):459-67.

Melatonin attenuates brain contusion-induced oxidative insult, inactivation of signal transducers and activators of transcription 1, and upregulation of suppressor of cytokine signaling-3 in rats.

The induction of oxidative stress and inflammation has been closely linked in traumatic brain injury (TBI). Transcriptional factors of signal transducers and activators of transcription (STAT) proteins are redox sensitive and participate in the regulation of cytokine signaling. Previous studies demonstrated that melatonin protects neurons through its antioxidative and anti-inflammatory effects in various neuropathological conditions. However, the effect of melatonin on STAT activity after TBI has not yet been explored. In this study, we used a controlled weight-drop TBI model and found that brain contusion induced oxidative stress (a decreased level of total glutathione and an increased ratio of oxidized glutathione to total glutathione), a reduction in STAT1 DNA-binding activity, and consequently neuronal loss in a contusion depth-dependent manner. A significant increased mRNA expression of suppressor of cytokine signaling (SOCS3), inducible nitric oxide synthetase (iNOS), and interleukine-6 (IL-6), but a decreased protein expression of protein inhibitor of activated STAT (PIAS1), was found 24 hr after brain contusion. SOCS3 and PIAS1 are endogenous negative regulators of STAT1. Moreover, the combination of intraperitoneal and local (presoaked in gelfoam and placed on the traumatic cortex) administration of melatonin had the most pronounced influence in inhibiting all effects except the PIAS1 downregulation induced by brain contusion. The results suggest that SOCS-3 upregulation and oxidative stress may contribute to the STAT1 inactivation after TBI. Melatonin protects neurons from TBI by reducing oxidative stress, STAT1 inactivation, and upregulation of SOCS-3 and pro-inflammatory cytokines.

J Pineal Res. 2011 Sep;51(2):233-45

The therapeutic effects of melatonin and nimodipine in rats after cerebral cortical injury.

AIM: Secondary brain injury starts after the initial traumatic impact and marked by an increase in the intracellular calcium concentrations. This cascade eventually results in membrane lipid peroxidation and neuronal cell death. MATERIAL AND METHODS: We investigated the neuro-protective effects of nimodipine and melatonin in 38 rats after 6 hours of head trauma using the cortical impact injury model of Marmarou. RESULTS: Brain water in the melatonin-given group decreased significantly comparing to that of control group the brain water in the nimodipine given group increased significantly comparing to that of trauma group. Histopathologically, brain edema was significantly low in melatonin-administered group comparing to that of control group while there were no changes in brain edema in the nimodipine given group and in the group that both nimodipine and melatonin were administered in combination. MDA levels in the brain tissues were significantly lower in the melatonin and nimodipine groups comparing to those of trauma and control group however this difference was by far significant in melatonin group comparing to nimodipine group. CONCLUSION: Melatonin appears to have neuro-protective effects on the secondary brain damage while nimodipine and nimodipine plus melatonin combination did not show such neuro-protective effects on the secondary brain injury.

Turk Neurosurg. 2012;22(6):740-6

Melatonin preserves longevity protein (sirtuin 1) expression in the hippocampus of total sleep-deprived rats.

Sleep disorders cause cognitive dysfunction in which impaired neuronal plasticity in the hippocampus may underline the molecular mechanisms of this deficiency. As sirtuin 1 (SIRT1) plays an important role in maintaining metabolic homeostasis and neuronal plasticity, this study is aimed to determine whether melatonin exerts beneficial effects on preserving SIRT1 activation following total sleep deprivation (TSD). TSD was performed by disc on water method for five consecutive days. During this period, animals daily received melatonin at doses of 5, 25, 50 or 100 mg/kg. The cytochrome oxidase (COX) histochemistry, SIRT1 immunohistochemistry together with Morris water maze learning test were performed to examine the metabolic, neurochemical, as well as the behavioral changes in neuronal plasticity, respectively. The results indicate that in normal rats, numerous COX and SIRT1 positive-labeled neurons with strong staining intensities were found in hippocampal pyramidal and granular cell layers. Following TSD, both COX and SIRT1 reactivities were drastically decreased as revealed by reduced staining pattern and labeling frequency. Behavioral data corresponded well with morphological findings in which spatial memory test in water maze was significantly impaired after TSD. However, in rats receiving different doses of melatonin, both COX and SIRT1 expressions were successfully preserved. Considerably better performance on behavioral testing further strengthened the beneficial effects of melatonin. These findings suggest that melatonin may serve as a novel therapeutic strategy directed for preventing the memory deficits resulting from TSD, possibly by effectively preserving the metabolic function and neuronal plasticity engaged in maintaining cognitive activity.

J Pineal Res. 2009 Oct;47(3):211-20

Melatonin Potentiates the Neuroprotective Properties of Resveratrol Against Beta-Amyloid-Induced Neurodegeneration by Modulating AMP-Activated Protein Kinase Pathways.

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Recent studies have demonstrated that resveratrol (RSV) reduces the incidence of age-related macular degeneration, Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and stroke, while melatonin (MEL) supplementation reduces the progression of the cognitive impairment in AD patients. The purpose of this investigation was to assess whether the co-administration of MEL and RSV exerts synergistic effects on their neuroprotective properties against β-amyloid (Aβ)-induced neuronal death. METHODS: The neuroprotective effects of co-treatment with MEL and RSV on Aβ1-42-induced cell death, was measured by MTT reduction assay. Aβ1-42 caused an increase in intracellular levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS), as assessed by H(2)-DCF-DA dye, and a reduction of total glutathione (GSH) levels and mitochondrial membrane potential, as assessed using monochlorobimane and rhodamine 123 fluorescence, respectively. Western blotting was used to investigate the intracellular signaling mechanism involved in these synergic effects. RESULTS: We treated a murine HT22 hippocampal cell line with MEL or RSV alone or with both simultaneously. MEL and RSV alone significantly attenuated ROS production, mitochondrial membrane-potential disruption and the neurotoxicity induced by Aβ1-42. They also restored the Aβ1-42-induced depletion of GSH, back to within its normal range and prevented the Aβ1-42-induced activation of glycogen synthase kinase 3β (GSK3β). However, co-treatment with MEL and RSV did not exert any significant synergistic effects on either the recovery of the Aβ1-42-induced depletion of GSH or on the inhibition of Aβ1-42-induced GSK3β activation. Aβ1-42 treatment increased AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) activity, which is associated with subsequent neuronal death. We demonstrated that MEL and RSV treatment inhibited the phosphorylation of AMPK. CONCLUSIONS: Together, our results suggest that co-administration of MEL and RSV acts as an effective treatment for AD by attenuating Aβ1-42-induced oxidative stress and the AMPK-dependent pathway.

J Clin Neurol. 2010 Sep;6(3):127-37