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1.  Melatonin in Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative disorders 
Increased oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction have been identified as common pathophysiological phenomena associated with neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease (AD), Parkinson's disease (PD) and Huntington's disease (HD). As the age-related decline in the production of melatonin may contribute to increased levels of oxidative stress in the elderly, the role of this neuroprotective agent is attracting increasing attention. Melatonin has multiple actions as a regulator of antioxidant and prooxidant enzymes, radical scavenger and antagonist of mitochondrial radical formation. The ability of melatonin and its kynuramine metabolites to interact directly with the electron transport chain by increasing the electron flow and reducing electron leakage are unique features by which melatonin is able to increase the survival of neurons under enhanced oxidative stress. Moreover, antifibrillogenic actions have been demonstrated in vitro, also in the presence of profibrillogenic apoE4 or apoE3, and in vivo, in a transgenic mouse model. Amyloid-β toxicity is antagonized by melatonin and one of its kynuramine metabolites. Cytoskeletal disorganization and protein hyperphosphorylation, as induced in several cell-line models, have been attenuated by melatonin, effects comprising stress kinase downregulation and extending to neurotrophin expression. Various experimental models of AD, PD and HD indicate the usefulness of melatonin in antagonizing disease progression and/or mitigating some of the symptoms. Melatonin secretion has been found to be altered in AD and PD. Attempts to compensate for age- and disease-dependent melatonin deficiency have shown that administration of this compound can improve sleep efficiency in AD and PD and, to some extent, cognitive function in AD patients. Exogenous melatonin has also been reported to alleviate behavioral symptoms such as sundowning. Taken together, these findings suggest that melatonin, its analogues and kynuric metabolites may have potential value in prevention and treatment of AD and other neurodegenerative disorders.
PMCID: PMC1483829  PMID: 16674804
2.  Melatonin protects against neurobehavioral and mitochondrial deficits in a chronic mouse model of Parkinson’s disease 
Neuronal oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction have been implicated in Parkinson’s disease. Melatonin is a natural antioxidant and free radical scavenger that has been shown to effectively reduce cellular oxidative stress and protect mitochondrial functions in vitro. However, whether melatonin is capable of slowing down the neurodegenerative process in animal models of Parkinson’s disease remains controversial. In this research, we examined long-term melatonin treatment on striatal mitochondrial and dopaminergic functions and on animal locomotor performance in a chronic mouse model of Parkinson’s disease originally established in our laboratory by gradually treating C57BL/6 mice with 10 doses of 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (15 mg/kg, s.c.) and probenecid (250 mg/kg, i.p.) over five weeks. We report here that when the chronic Parkinsonian mice were pre-treated and continuously treated with melatonin (5 mg/kg/day, i.p.) for 18 weeks, the defects of mitochondrial respiration, ATP and antioxidant enzyme levels detected in the striatum of chronic Parkinson’s mice were fully preempted. Meanwhile, the striatal dopaminergic and locomotor deficits seen in the chronic Parkinson’s mice were partially and significantly forestalled. These results imply that long-term melatonin is not only mitochondrial protective but also moderately neuronal protective in the chronic Parkinson’s mice. Melatonin may potentially be effective for slowing down the progression of idiopathic Parkinson’s disease and for reducing oxidative stress and respiratory chain inhibition in other mitochondrial disorders.
PMCID: PMC3156390  PMID: 21741988
Parkinson’s disease; chronic MPTP/probenecid model; neurodegeneration; neuroprotection; mitochondrial dysfunction
3.  Melatonin and Its Agonist Ramelteon in Alzheimer's Disease: Possible Therapeutic Value 
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is an age-associated neurodegenerative disease characterized by the progressive loss of cognitive function, loss of memory and insomnia, and abnormal behavioral signs and symptoms. Among the various theories that have been put forth to explain the pathophysiology of AD, the oxidative stress induced by amyloid β-protein (Aβ) deposition has received great attention. Studies undertaken on postmortem brain samples of AD patients have consistently shown extensive lipid, protein, and DNA oxidation. Presence of abnormal tau protein, mitochondrial dysfunction, and protein hyperphosphorylation all have been demonstrated in neural tissues of AD patients. Moreover, AD patients exhibit severe sleep/wake disturbances and insomnia and these are associated with more rapid cognitive decline and memory impairment. On this basis, the successful management of AD patients requires an ideal drug that besides antagonizing Aβ-induced neurotoxicity could also correct the disturbed sleep-wake rhythm and improve sleep quality. Melatonin is an effective chronobiotic agent and has significant neuroprotective properties preventing Aβ-induced neurotoxic effects in a number of animal experimental models. Since melatonin levels in AD patients are greatly reduced, melatonin replacement has the potential value to be used as a therapeutic agent for treating AD, particularly at the early phases of the disease and especially in those in whom the relevant melatonin receptors are intact. As sleep deprivation has been shown to produce oxidative damage, impaired mitochondrial function, neurodegenerative inflammation, and altered proteosomal processing with abnormal activation of enzymes, treatment of sleep disturbances may be a priority for arresting the progression of AD. In this context the newly introduced melatonin agonist ramelteon can be of much therapeutic value because of its highly selective action on melatonin MT1/MT2 receptors in promoting sleep.
PMCID: PMC3004402  PMID: 21197086
4.  Peripheral and Central Effects of Melatonin on Blood Pressure Regulation 
The pineal hormone, melatonin (N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine), shows potent receptor-dependent and -independent actions, which participate in blood pressure regulation. The antihypertensive effect of melatonin was demonstrated in experimental and clinical hypertension. Receptor-dependent effects are mediated predominantly through MT1 and MT2 G-protein coupled receptors. The pleiotropic receptor-independent effects of melatonin with a possible impact on blood pressure involve the reactive oxygen species (ROS) scavenging nature, activation and over-expression of several antioxidant enzymes or their protection from oxidative damage and the ability to increase the efficiency of the mitochondrial electron transport chain. Besides the interaction with the vascular system, this indolamine may exert part of its antihypertensive action through its interaction with the central nervous system (CNS). The imbalance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic vegetative system is an important pathophysiological disorder and therapeutic target in hypertension. Melatonin is protective in CNS on several different levels: It reduces free radical burden, improves endothelial dysfunction, reduces inflammation and shifts the balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic system in favor of the parasympathetic system. The increased level of serum melatonin observed in some types of hypertension may be a counter-regulatory adaptive mechanism against the sympathetic overstimulation. Since melatonin acts favorably on different levels of hypertension, including organ protection and with minimal side effects, it could become regularly involved in the struggle against this widespread cardiovascular pathology.
PMCID: PMC4227197  PMID: 25299692
melatonin; hypertension; central nervous system (CNS); MT1 and MT2 receptors; reactive oxygen species (ROS)
5.  Melatonin maintains mitochondrial membrane potential and attenuates activation of initiator (casp-9) and effector caspases (casp-3/casp-7) and PARP in UVR-exposed HaCaT keratinocytes 
Journal of pineal research  2007;44(4):397-407.
Melatonin is a recognized antioxidant with high potential as a protective agent in many conditions related to oxidative stress such as neurodegenerative diseases, ischemia/reperfusion syndromes, sepsis and aging. These processes may be favorably affected by melatonin through its radical scavenging properties and/or antiapoptotic activity. Also, there is increasing evidence that these effects of melatonin could be relevant in keratinocytes, the main cell population of the skin where it would contribute to protection against damage induced by ultraviolet radiation (UVR). We therefore investigated the kinetics of UVR-induced apoptosis in cultured keratinocytes characterizing the morphological and mitochondrial changes, the caspases-dependent apoptotic pathways and involvement of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) activation as well as the protective effects of melatonin. When irradiated with UVB radiation (50 mJ/cm2), melatonin treated, cultured keratinocytes were more confluent, showed less cell blebbing, more uniform shape and less nuclear condensation as compared to irradiated, nonmelatonin-treated controls. Preincubation with melatonin also led to normalization of the decreased UVR-induced mitochondrial membrane potential. These melatonin effects were followed by suppression of the activation of mitochondrial pathway-related initiator caspase 9 (casp-9), but not of death receptor-dependent casp-8 between 24 and 48 hr after UVR exposure. Melatonin down-regulated effector caspases (casp-3/casp-7) at 24–48 hr post-UV irradiation and reduced PARP activation at 24 hr. Thus, melatonin is particularly active in UV-irradiated keratinocytes maintaining the mitochondrial membrane potential, inhibiting the consecutive activation of the intrinsic apoptotic pathway and reducing PARP activation. In conclusion, these data provide detailed evidence for specific antiapoptotic mechanisms of melatonin in UVR-induced damage of human keratinocytes.
PMCID: PMC2365494  PMID: 18086147
antioxidant; apoptosis; caspases; keratinocytes; melatonin; mitochondria; poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase; ultraviolet radiation
6.  Antiinflammatory Activity of Melatonin in Central Nervous System 
Current Neuropharmacology  2010;8(3):228-242.
Melatonin is mainly produced in the mammalian pineal gland during the dark phase. Its secretion from the pineal gland has been classically associated with circadian and circanual rhythm regulation. However, melatonin production is not confined exclusively to the pineal gland, but other tissues including retina, Harderian glands, gut, ovary, testes, bone marrow and lens also produce it. Several studies have shown that melatonin reduces chronic and acute inflammation. The immunomodulatory properties of melatonin are well known; it acts on the immune system by regulating cytokine production of immunocompetent cells. Experimental and clinical data showing that melatonin reduces adhesion molecules and pro-inflammatory cytokines and modifies serum inflammatory parameters. As a consequence, melatonin improves the clinical course of illnesses which have an inflammatory etiology. Moreover, experimental evidence supports its actions as a direct and indirect antioxidant, scavenging free radicals, stimulating antioxidant enzymes, enhancing the activities of other antioxidants or protecting other antioxidant enzymes from oxidative damage. Several encouraging clinical studies suggest that melatonin is a neuroprotective molecule in neurodegenerative disorders where brain oxidative damage has been implicated as a common link. In this review, the authors examine the effect of melatonin on several neurological diseases with inflammatory components, including dementia, Alzheimer disease, Parkinson disease, multiple sclerosis, stroke, and brain ischemia/reperfusion but also in traumatic CNS injuries (traumatic brain and spinal cord injury)
PMCID: PMC3001216  PMID: 21358973
Melatonin; inflammation; neurodegeneration; mitochondria; antioxidant; free radical.
7.  Differential expression of the nuclear-encoded mitochondrial transcriptome in pediatric septic shock 
Critical Care  2014;18(6):623.
Increasing evidence supports a role for mitochondrial dysfunction in organ injury and immune dysregulation in sepsis. Although differential expression of mitochondrial genes in blood cells has been reported for several diseases in which bioenergetic failure is a postulated mechanism, there are no data about the blood cell mitochondrial transcriptome in pediatric sepsis.
We conducted a focused analysis using a multicenter genome-wide expression database of 180 children ≤10 years of age with septic shock and 53 healthy controls. Using total RNA isolated from whole blood within 24 hours of PICU admission for septic shock, we evaluated 296 nuclear-encoded mitochondrial genes using a false discovery rate of 1%. A series of bioinformatic approaches were applied to compare differentially expressed genes across previously validated gene expression-based subclasses (groups A, B, and C) of pediatric septic shock.
In total, 118 genes were differentially regulated in subjects with septic shock compared to healthy controls, including 48 genes that were upregulated and 70 that were downregulated. The top scoring canonical pathway was oxidative phosphorylation, with general downregulation of the 51 genes corresponding to the electron transport system (ETS). The top two gene networks were composed primarily of mitochondrial ribosomal proteins highly connected to ETS complex I, and genes encoding for ETS complexes I, II, and IV that were highly connected to the peroxisome proliferator activated receptor (PPAR) family. There were 162 mitochondrial genes differentially regulated between groups A, B, and C. Group A, which had the highest maximum number of organ failures and mortality, exhibited a greater downregulation of mitochondrial genes compared to groups B and C.
Based on a focused analysis of a pediatric septic shock transcriptomic database, nuclear-encoded mitochondrial genes were differentially regulated early in pediatric septic shock compared to healthy controls, as well as across genotypic and phenotypic distinct pediatric septic shock subclasses. The nuclear genome may be an important mechanism contributing to alterations in mitochondrial bioenergetic function and outcomes in pediatric sepsis.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13054-014-0623-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4247726  PMID: 25410281
8.  Aging and oxygen toxicity: Relation to changes in melatonin 
Age  1997;20(4):201-213.
Melatonin (N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine) is a chemical mediator produced in the pineal gland and other sites in the body. The melatonin found in the blood is derived almost exclusively from the pineal gland. Since the pineal synthesizes melatonin primarily at night, blood levels of the indole are also higher at night (5–15 fold) than during the day. Some individuals on a nightly basis produce twice as much melatonin as others of the same age. Throughout life, the melatonin rhythm gradually wanes such that, in advanced age, melatonin production is usually at a minimum. Melatonin was recently found to be a free radical scavenger and antioxidant. It has been shown, in the experimental setting, to protect against both free radical induced DNA damage and oxidative stress-mediated lipid peroxidation. Pharmacologically, melatonin has been shown to reduce oxidative damage caused by such toxins as the chemical carcinogen safrole, carbon tetrachloride, paraquat, bacterial lipopolysaccharide, kainic acid, δ-aminolevulinic and amyloid β peptide of Alzheimer’s disease as well as a model of Parkinson’s disease involving the drug 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP). Additionally, the oxidative damage caused by agents such as ionizing radiation and excessive exercise is reduced by melatonin. Since free radical-induced molecular injury may play a significant role in aging, melatonin’s ability to protect against it suggests a potential function of melatonin in deferring aging and age-related, free radical-based diseases. Besides its ability to abate oxidative damage, other beneficial features of melatonin may be important in combating the signs of aging; these include melatonin’s immune-stimulating function, its sleep-promoting ability, its function as an anti-viral agent, and general protective actions at the cellular level. Definitive tests of the specific functions of physiological levels of melatonin in processes of aging are currently being conducted.
PMCID: PMC3455256  PMID: 23604322
9.  Melatonin as a potential therapy for sepsis: a phase I dose escalation study and an ex vivo whole blood model under conditions of sepsis 
Journal of Pineal Research  2014;56(4):427-438.
Sepsis is a massive inflammatory response mediated by infection, characterized by oxidative stress, release of cytokines, and mitochondrial dysfunction. Melatonin accumulates in mitochondria, and both it and its metabolites have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities and may be useful in sepsis. We undertook a phase I dose escalation study in healthy volunteers to assess the tolerability and pharmacokinetics of 20, 30, 50, and 100 mg oral doses of melatonin. In addition, we developed an ex vivo whole blood model under conditions mimicking sepsis to determine the bioactivity of melatonin and the major metabolite 6-hydroxymelatonin at relevant concentrations. For the phase I trial, oral melatonin was given to five subjects in each dose cohort (n = 20). Blood and urine were collected for measurement of melatonin and 6-hydroxymelatonin, and symptoms and physiological measures were assessed. Validated sleep scales were completed. No adverse effects after oral melatonin, other than mild transient drowsiness with no effects on sleeping patterns, were seen, and no symptoms were reported. Melatonin was rapidly cleared at all doses with a median [range] elimination half-life of 51.7 [29.5–63.2] min across all doses. There was considerable variability in maximum melatonin levels within each dose cohort, but 6-hydoxymelatonin sulfate levels were less variable and remained stable for several hours. For the ex vivo study, blood from 20 volunteers was treated with lipopolysaccharide and peptidoglycan plus a range of concentrations of melatonin/6-hydroxymelatonin. Both melatonin and 6-hydroxymelatonin had beneficial effects on sepsis-induced mitochondrial dysfunction, oxidative stress, and cytokine responses at concentrations similar to those achieved in vivo.
PMCID: PMC4279949  PMID: 24650045
6-hydroxymelatonin; cytokines; melatonin; phase I clinical trial; sepsis
10.  High-fat diet decreases activity of the oxidative phosphorylation complexes and causes nonalcoholic steatohepatitis in mice 
Disease Models & Mechanisms  2014;7(11):1287-1296.
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most frequent histological finding in individuals with abnormal liver-function tests in the Western countries. In previous studies, we have shown that oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) is decreased in individuals with NAFLD, but the cause of this mitochondrial dysfunction remains uncertain. The aims of this study were to determine whether feeding mice a high-fat diet (HFD) induces any change in the activity of OXPHOS, and to investigate the mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of this defect. To that end, 30 mice were distributed between five groups: control mice fed a standard diet, and mice on a HFD and treated with saline solution, melatonin (an antioxidant), MnTBAP (a superoxide dismutase analog) or uric acid (a scavenger of peroxynitrite) for 28 weeks intraperitoneously. In the liver of these mice, we studied histology, activity and assembly of OXPHOS complexes, levels of subunits of these complexes, gene expression of these subunits, oxidative and nitrosative stress, and oxidative DNA damage. In HFD-fed mice, we found nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, increased gene expression of TNFα, IFNγ, MCP-1, caspase-3, TGFβ1 and collagen α1(I), and increased levels of 3-tyrosine nitrated proteins. The activity and assembly of all OXPHOS complexes was decreased to about 50–60%. The amount of all studied OXPHOS subunits was markedly decreased, particularly the mitochondrial-DNA-encoded subunits. Gene expression of mitochondrial-DNA-encoded subunits was decreased to about 60% of control. There was oxidative damage to mitochondrial DNA but not to genomic DNA. Treatment of HFD-fed mice with melatonin, MnTBAP or uric acid prevented all changes observed in untreated HFD-fed mice. We conclude that a HFD decreased OXPHOS enzymatic activity owing to a decreased amount of fully assembled complexes caused by a reduced synthesis of their subunits. Antioxidants and antiperoxynitrites prevented all of these changes, suggesting that nitro-oxidative stress played a key role in the pathogenesis of these alterations. Treatment with these agents might prevent the development of NAFLD in humans.
PMCID: PMC4213732  PMID: 25261569
Mitochondrial respiratory chain; Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis; NADPH oxidase; Oxidative phosphorylation; Proteomic; Nitro-oxidative stress
11.  The inhibition of apoptosis by melatonin in VSC4.1 motoneurons exposed to oxidative stress, glutamate excitotoxicity, or TNF-α toxicity involves membrane melatonin receptors 
Journal of pineal research  2010;48(2):157-169.
Loss of motoneurons may underlie some of the deficits in motor function associated with CNS injuries and diseases. We tested whether melatonin, a potent antioxidant and free radical scavenger, would prevent motoneuron apoptosis following exposure to toxins and whether this neuroprotection is mediated by melatonin receptors. Exposure of VSC4.1 motoneurons to either 50 μM H2O2, 25 μM glutamate (LGA), or 50 ng/ml tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) for 24 h caused significant increases in apoptosis, as determined by Wright staining and ApopTag assay. Analyses of mRNA and proteins showed increased expression and activities of stress kinases and cysteine proteases and loss of mitochondrial membrane potential during apoptosis. These insults also caused increases in intracellular free [Ca2+] and activities of calpain and caspases. Cells exposed to stress stimuli for 15 min were then treated with 200 nM melatonin. Post-treatment of cells with melatonin attenuated production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and phosphorylation of p38, MAPK, and JNK1, prevented cell death, and maintained whole-cell membrane potential, indicating functional neuroprotection. Melatonin receptors (MT1 and MT2) were upregulated following treatment with melatonin. To confirm the involvement of MT1 and MT2 in providing neuroprotection, cells were post-treated (20 min) with 10 μM luzindole (melatonin receptor antagonist). Luzindole significantly attenuated melatonin-induced neuroprotection, suggesting that melatonin worked, at least in part, via its receptors to prevent VSC4.1 motoneuron apoptosis. Results suggest that neuroprotection rendered by melatonin to motoneurons is receptor mediated and melatonin may be an effective neuroprotective agent to attenuate motoneuron death in CNS injuries and diseases.
PMCID: PMC2862889  PMID: 20082663
apoptosis; cytoprotective; glutamate; H2O2; melatonin; motoneurons; TNF-α
12.  Mitochondrial and Metabolic Dysfunction in Renal Convoluted Tubules of Obese Mice: Protective Role of Melatonin 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e111141.
Obesity is a common and complex health problem, which impacts crucial organs; it is also considered an independent risk factor for chronic kidney disease. Few studies have analyzed the consequence of obesity in the renal proximal convoluted tubules, which are the major tubules involved in reabsorptive processes. For optimal performance of the kidney, energy is primarily provided by mitochondria. Melatonin, an indoleamine and antioxidant, has been identified in mitochondria, and there is considerable evidence regarding its essential role in the prevention of oxidative mitochondrial damage. In this study we evaluated the mechanism(s) of mitochondrial alterations in an animal model of obesity (ob/ob mice) and describe the beneficial effects of melatonin treatment on mitochondrial morphology and dynamics as influenced by mitofusin-2 and the intrinsic apoptotic cascade. Melatonin dissolved in 1% ethanol was added to the drinking water from postnatal week 5–13; the calculated dose of melatonin intake was 100 mg/kg body weight/day. Compared to control mice, obesity-related morphological alterations were apparent in the proximal tubules which contained round mitochondria with irregular, short cristae and cells with elevated apoptotic index. Melatonin supplementation in obese mice changed mitochondria shape and cristae organization of proximal tubules, enhanced mitofusin-2 expression, which in turn modulated the progression of the mitochondria-driven intrinsic apoptotic pathway. These changes possibly aid in reducing renal failure. The melatonin-mediated changes indicate its potential protective use against renal morphological damage and dysfunction associated with obesity and metabolic disease.
PMCID: PMC4210266  PMID: 25347680
13.  Significance of High Levels of Endogenous Melatonin in Mammalian Cerebrospinal Fluid and in the Central Nervous System 
Current Neuropharmacology  2010;8(3):162-167.
Levels of melatonin in mammalian circulation are well documented; however, its levels in tissues and other body fluids are yet only poorly established. It is obvious that melatonin concentrations in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of mammals including humans are substantially higher than those in the peripheral circulation. Evidence indicates that melatonin produced in pineal gland is directly released into third ventricle via the pineal recess. In addition, brain tissue is equipped with the synthetic machinery for melatonin production and the astrocytes and glial cells have been proven to produce melatonin. These two sources of melatonin may be responsible for its high levels in CNS. The physiological significance of the high levels of melatonin in CNS presumably is to protect neurons and glia from oxidative stress. Melatonin as a potent antioxidant has been reported to be a neuroprotector in animals and in clinical studies. It seems that long term melatonin administration which elevates CSF melatonin concentrations will retard the progression of neurodegenerative disorders, for example, Alzheimer disease.
PMCID: PMC3001210  PMID: 21358967
Melatonin; pineal gland; CNS; CSF; oxidative stress; neurodegenerative disease.
14.  Melatonin Metabolism in the Central Nervous System 
Current Neuropharmacology  2010;8(3):168-181.
The metabolism of melatonin in the central nervous system is of interest for several reasons. Melatonin enters the brain either via the pineal recess or by uptake from the blood. It has been assumed to be also formed in some brain areas. Neuroprotection by melatonin has been demonstrated in numerous model systems, and various attempts have been undertaken to counteract neurodegeneration by melatonin treatment. Several concurrent pathways lead to different products. Cytochrome P450 subforms have been demonstrated in the brain. They either demethylate melatonin to N-acetylserotonin, or produce 6-hydroxymelatonin, which is mostly sulfated already in the CNS. Melatonin is deacetylated, at least in pineal gland and retina, to 5-methoxytryptamine. N1-acetyl-N2-formyl-5-methoxykynuramine is formed by pyrrole-ring cleavage, by myeloperoxidase, indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase and various non-enzymatic oxidants. Its product, N1-acetyl-5-methoxykynuramine, is of interest as a scavenger of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species, mitochondrial modulator, downregulator of cyclooxygenase-2, inhibitor of cyclooxygenase, neuronal and inducible NO synthases. Contrary to other nitrosated aromates, the nitrosated kynuramine metabolite, 3-acetamidomethyl-6-methoxycinnolinone, does not re-donate NO. Various other products are formed from melatonin and its metabolites by interaction with reactive oxygen and nitrogen species. The relative contribution of the various pathways to melatonin catabolism seems to be influenced by microglia activation, oxidative stress and brain levels of melatonin, which may be strongly changed in experiments on neuroprotection. Many of the melatonin metabolites, which may appear in elevated concentrations after melatonin administration, possess biological or pharmacological properties, including N-acetylserotonin, 5-methoxytryptamine and some of its derivatives, and especially the 5-methoxylated kynuramines.
PMCID: PMC3001211  PMID: 21358968
Kynuramines; melatonin; 5-methoxytryptamine; N-acetylserotonin; reactive nitrogen species; reactive oxygen species; 6-sulfatoxymelatonin.
15.  Melatonin protects lung mitochondria from aging 
Age  2011;34(3):681-692.
We assessed whether melatonin administration would prevent the hyperoxidative status that occurs in lung mitochondria with age. Mitochondria from lungs of male and female senescent prone mice at 5 and 10 months of age were studied. Age-dependent mitochondrial oxidative stress was evaluated by measuring the levels of lipid peroxidation and nitrite, glutathione/glutathione disulfide ratio, and glutathione peroxidase and reductase activities. Mitochondrial respiratory chain and oxidative phosphorylation capability were also measured. Age induces a significant oxidative/nitrosative status in lung mitochondria, which exhibited a significantly reduced activity of the respiratory chain and ATP production. These manifestations of age were more pronounced in males than in females. After 9 months of melatonin administration in the drinking water, the hyperoxidative status and functional deficiency of aged lung mitochondria were totally counteracted, and had increased ATP production. The beneficial effects of melatonin were generally similar in both mice genders. Thus, melatonin administration, as a single therapy, maintained fully functioning lung mitochondria during aging, a finding with important consequences in the pathophysiology of lung aging. In view of these data melatonin, the production of which decreases with age, should be considered a preventive therapy against the hyperoxidative status of the aged lungs, and its use may lead to the avoidance of respiratory complications in the elderly.
PMCID: PMC3337938  PMID: 21614449
Lung; Aging; Mitochondria; Respiratory chain; Oxidative phosphorylation; Oxidative stress; Life Sciences; Molecular Medicine; Geriatrics/Gerontology; Cell Biology
16.  Melatonin, a potent agent in antioxidative defense: Actions as a natural food constituent, gastrointestinal factor, drug and prodrug 
Melatonin, originally discovered as a hormone of the pineal gland, is also produced in other organs and represents, additionally, a normal food constituent found in yeast and plant material, which can influence the level in the circulation. Compared to the pineal, the gastrointestinal tract contains several hundred times more melatonin, which can be released into the blood in response to food intake and stimuli by nutrients, especially tryptophan. Apart from its use as a commercial food additive, supraphysiological doses have been applied in medical trials and pure preparations are well tolerated by patients. Owing to its amphiphilicity, melatonin can enter any body fluid, cell or cell compartment. Its properties as an antioxidant agent are based on several, highly diverse effects. Apart from direct radical scavenging, it plays a role in upregulation of antioxidant and downregulation of prooxidant enzymes, and damage by free radicals can be reduced by its antiexcitatory actions, and presumably by contributions to appropriate internal circadian phasing, and by its improvement of mitochondrial metabolism, in terms of avoiding electron leakage and enhancing complex I and complex IV activities. Melatonin was shown to potentiate effects of other antioxidants, such as ascorbate and Trolox. Under physiological conditions, direct radical scavenging may only contribute to a minor extent to overall radical detoxification, although melatonin can eliminate several of them in scavenger cascades and potentiates the efficacy of antioxidant vitamins. Melatonin oxidation seems rather important for the production of other biologically active metabolites such as N1-acetyl-N2-formyl-5-methoxykynuramine (AFMK) and N1-acetyl-5-methoxykynuramine (AMK), which have been shown to also dispose of protective properties. Thus, melatonin may be regarded as a prodrug, too. AMK interacts with reactive oxygen and nitrogen species, conveys protection to mitochondria, inhibits and downregulates cyclooxygenase 2.
PMCID: PMC1262766  PMID: 16153306
17.  Therapeutic potential of melatonin and its analogs in Parkinson’s disease: focus on sleep and neuroprotection 
Sleep disorders constitute major nonmotor features of Parkinson’s disease (PD) that have a substantial effect on patients’ quality of life and can be related to the progression of the neurodegenerative disease. They can also serve as preclinical markers for PD, as it is the case for rapid eye movement (REM)-associated sleep behavior disorder (RBD). Although the etiology of sleep disorders in PD remains undefined, the assessment of the components of the circadian system, including melatonin secretion, could give therapeutically valuable insight on their pathophysiopathology. Melatonin is a regulator of the sleep/wake cycle and also acts as an effective antioxidant and mitochondrial function protector. A reduction in the expression of melatonin MT1 and MT2 receptors has been documented in the substantia nigra of PD patients. The efficacy of melatonin for preventing neuronal cell death and for ameliorating PD symptoms has been demonstrated in animal models of PD employing neurotoxins. A small number of controlled trials indicate that melatonin is useful in treating disturbed sleep in PD, in particular RBD. Whether melatonin and the recently developed melatonergic agents (ramelteon, tasimelteon, agomelatine) have therapeutic potential in PD is also discussed.
PMCID: PMC3187674  PMID: 22010042
agomelatine; insomnia; light therapy; melatonin; oxidative stress; Parkinson’s disease; ramelteon; REM sleep behavior disorder; tasimelteon
18.  Hepatoprotective actions of melatonin: Possible mediation by melatonin receptors 
Melatonin, the hormone of darkness and messenger of the photoperiod, is also well known to exhibit strong direct and indirect antioxidant properties. Melatonin has previously been demonstrated to be a powerful organ protective substance in numerous models of injury; these beneficial effects have been attributed to the hormone’s intense radical scavenging capacity. The present report reviews the hepatoprotective potential of the pineal hormone in various models of oxidative stress in vivo, and summarizes the extensive literature showing that melatonin may be a suitable experimental substance to reduce liver damage after sepsis, hemorrhagic shock, ischemia/reperfusion, and in numerous models of toxic liver injury. Melatonin’s influence on hepatic antioxidant enzymes and other potentially relevant pathways, such as nitric oxide signaling, hepatic cytokine and heat shock protein expression, are evaluated. Based on recent literature demonstrating the functional relevance of melatonin receptor activation for hepatic organ protection, this article finally suggests that melatonin receptors could mediate the hepatoprotective actions of melatonin therapy.
PMCID: PMC3012585  PMID: 21182223
Antioxidant enzymes; Hemorrhagic shock; Hepatoprotection; Ischemia; Liver; Liver function; Melatonin; Melatonin receptor; Ramelteon; Reperfusion; Sepsis; Toxic liver injury
19.  Impaired mitochondrial complex III and melatonin responsive reactive oxygen species generation in kidney mitochondria of db/db mice 
Journal of pineal research  2011;51(3):338-344.
We have previously demonstrated that melatonin, at pharmacological concentrations, causes rapid reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation at the antimycin-A sensitive site of mitochondrial complex III (MC-3). In the current work, we used this melatonin response to investigate the role of mitochondrial dysfunction in the development of diabetic nephropathy. We find that the development of diabetic nephropathy, as indicated by hyperfiltration and histopathological lesions in the kidney of db/db mice, is associated with diminished melatonin-induced ROS generation and MC-3 activity, indicating impaired MC-3 at the antimycin-A site. The MC-3 protein level in the renal mitochondria was equivalent in db/db and the non-diabetic db/m mice whereas mitochondrial complex I (MC-1) protein was dramatically upregulated in the db/db mice. This differential regulation in mitochondrial complexes may alter the equilibrium of the electron transport in renal mitochondria and contribute to ROS overproduction. The study provides one mechanism of enhanced oxidative stress that may be involved in the pathogenesis of diabetic nephropathy in db/db mice.
PMCID: PMC3165143  PMID: 21615785
melatonin; mitochondria; mitochondrial complex I and III; reactive oxygen species; glomerular filtration rate; hyperfiltration; diabetic nephropathy
20.  Delayed onset of the diurnal melatonin rise in patients with Huntington’s disease 
Journal of Neurology  2009;256(12):1961-1965.
Sleep disturbances are very prevalent in Huntington’s disease (HD) patients and can substantially impair their quality of life. Accumulating evidence suggests considerable dysfunction of the hypothalamic suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), the biological clock, in both HD patients and transgenic mouse models of the disease. As melatonin has a major role in the regulation of sleep and other cyclical bodily activities and its synthesis is directly regulated by the SCN, we postulated that disturbed SCN function is likely to give rise to abnormal melatonin secretion in HD. Therefore, we compared 24 h melatonin secretion profiles between early stage HD patients and age-, sex- and body mass index-matched controls. Although mean diurnal melatonin levels were not different between the two groups (p = 0.691), the timing of the evening rise in melatonin levels was significantly delayed by more than 01:30 h in HD patients (p = 0.048). Moreover, diurnal melatonin levels strongly correlated with both motor (r = −0.70, p = 0.036) and functional impairment (r = +0.78, p = 0.013). These findings suggest a delayed sleep phase syndrome-like circadian rhythm disorder in early stage HD patients and suggest that melatonin levels may progressively decline with advancing disease.
PMCID: PMC2780627  PMID: 19562249
Huntington’s disease; Melatonin; Sleep; Circadian rhythm; Hypothalamus
21.  Reactive Oxygen Species in the Regulation of Synaptic Plasticity and Memory 
Antioxidants & Redox Signaling  2011;14(10):2013-2054.
The brain is a metabolically active organ exhibiting high oxygen consumption and robust production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). The large amounts of ROS are kept in check by an elaborate network of antioxidants, which sometimes fail and lead to neuronal oxidative stress. Thus, ROS are typically categorized as neurotoxic molecules and typically exert their detrimental effects via oxidation of essential macromolecules such as enzymes and cytoskeletal proteins. Most importantly, excessive ROS are associated with decreased performance in cognitive function. However, at physiological concentrations, ROS are involved in functional changes necessary for synaptic plasticity and hence, for normal cognitive function. The fine line of role reversal of ROS from good molecules to bad molecules is far from being fully understood. This review focuses on identifying the multiple sources of ROS in the mammalian nervous system and on presenting evidence for the critical and essential role of ROS in synaptic plasticity and memory. The review also shows that the inability to restrain either age- or pathology-related increases in ROS levels leads to opposite, detrimental effects that are involved in impairments in synaptic plasticity and memory function. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 14, 2013–2054.
Basic Components of Learning and Memory
Sources of Reactive Oxygen Species
The mitochondrial respiratory chain
Complexes I and III
Mitochondrial superoxide in learning and memory
Monoamine oxidase
NOS: NO (and related gases)
NADPH oxidase
Structure and regulation of the NADPH oxidase
NADPH oxidase in the brain
NADPH oxidase in synaptic plasticity
Physiological Roles of ROS
Synaptic signaling and LTP
Learning and memory
Pathological Release and Effects of ROS
ROS in physiological aging
ROS during hypoxia/ischemia and traumatic brain injury
ROS in multiple disease states
Parkinson's disease
Antioxidant Defenses Against Pathological ROS
Antioxidant enzymes
Superoxide dismutases
Synaptic plasticity and memory in young mice
Synaptic plasticity and memory in the aged and diseased brain
GPx, glutathione reductase, and related enzymes
Antioxidant molecules (nonenzymatic)
Ascorbate (vitamin C)
Tocopherol (vitamin E)
Coenzyme Q
Melatonin and LTP
Melatonin and learning and memory
(1) Alzheimer's disease 2036
(2) Alcohol poisoning 2036
(3) Excitotoxicity=trauma=ischemia 2037
(4) Other
Lipoic acid
PMCID: PMC3078504  PMID: 20649473
22.  Inhibition of oxidative stress by coenzyme Q10 increases mitochondrial mass and improves bioenergetic function in optic nerve head astrocytes 
Cell Death & Disease  2013;4(10):e820-.
Oxidative stress contributes to dysfunction of glial cells in the optic nerve head (ONH). However, the biological basis of the precise functional role of mitochondria in this dysfunction is not fully understood. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), an essential cofactor of the electron transport chain and a potent antioxidant, acts by scavenging reactive oxygen species (ROS) for protecting neuronal cells against oxidative stress in many neurodegenerative diseases. Here, we tested whether hydrogen peroxide (100 μM H2O2)-induced oxidative stress alters the mitochondrial network, oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) complex (Cx) expression and bioenergetics, as well as whether CoQ10 can ameliorate oxidative stress-mediated alterations in mitochondria of the ONH astrocytes in vitro. Oxidative stress triggered the activation of ONH astrocytes and the upregulation of superoxide dismutase 2 (SOD2) and heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) protein expression in the ONH astrocytes. In contrast, CoQ10 not only prevented activation of ONH astrocytes but also significantly decreased SOD2 and HO-1 protein expression in the ONH astrocytes against oxidative stress. Further, CoQ10 prevented a significant loss of mitochondrial mass by increasing mitochondrial number and volume density and by preserving mitochondrial cristae structure, as well as promoted mitofilin and peroxisome-proliferator-activated receptor-γ coactivator-1 protein expression in the ONH astrocyte, suggesting an induction of mitochondrial biogenesis. Finally, oxidative stress triggered the upregulation of OXPHOS Cx protein expression, as well as reduction of cellular adeonsine triphosphate (ATP) production and increase of ROS generation in the ONH astocytes. However, CoQ10 preserved OXPHOS protein expression and cellular ATP production, as well as decreased ROS generation in the ONH astrocytes. On the basis of these observations, we suggest that oxidative stress-mediated mitochondrial dysfunction or alteration may be an important pathophysiological mechanism in the dysfunction of ONH astrocytes. CoQ10 may provide new therapeutic potentials and strategies for protecting ONH astrocytes against oxidative stress-mediated mitochondrial dysfunction or alteration in glaucoma and other optic neuropathies.
PMCID: PMC3824651  PMID: 24091663
oxidative stress; optic nerve head astrocytes; mitochondrial dysfunction; coenzyme Q10; glaucoma; OXPHOS complex
23.  Antioxidants that protect mitochondria reduce interleukin-6 and oxidative stress, improve mitochondrial function, and reduce biochemical markers of organ dysfunction in a rat model of acute sepsis 
BJA: British Journal of Anaesthesia  2013;110(3):472-480.
Sepsis-induced organ failure is the major cause of death in critical care units, and is characterized by a massive dysregulated inflammatory response and oxidative stress. We investigated the effects of treatment with antioxidants that protect mitochondria (MitoQ, MitoE, or melatonin) in a rat model of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) plus peptidoglycan (PepG)-induced acute sepsis, characterized by inflammation, mitochondrial dysfunction and early organ damage.
Anaesthetized and ventilated rats received an i.v. bolus of LPS and PepG followed by an i.v. infusion of MitoQ, MitoE, melatonin, or saline for 5 h. Organs and blood were then removed for determination of mitochondrial and organ function, oxidative stress, and key cytokines.
MitoQ, MitoE, or melatonin had broadly similar protective effects with improved mitochondrial respiration (P<0.002), reduced oxidative stress (P<0.02), and decreased interleukin-6 levels (P=0.0001). Compared with control rats, antioxidant-treated rats had lower levels of biochemical markers of organ dysfunction, including plasma alanine amino-transferase activity (P=0.02) and creatinine concentrations (P<0.0001).
Antioxidants that act preferentially in mitochondria reduce mitochondrial damage and organ dysfunction and decrease inflammatory responses in a rat model of acute sepsis.
PMCID: PMC3570068  PMID: 23381720
co-enzyme Q10; interleukin-6; interleukin-10; melatonin; sepsis; tocopherol
24.  Melatonin Improves Mitochondrial Function by Promoting MT1/SIRT1/PGC-1 Alpha-Dependent Mitochondrial Biogenesis in Cadmium-Induced Hepatotoxicity In Vitro 
Toxicological Sciences  2014;142(1):182-195.
Melatonin is an indolamine synthesized in the pineal gland that has a wide range of physiological functions, and it has been under clinical investigation for expanded applications. Increasing evidence demonstrates that melatonin can ameliorate cadmium-induced hepatotoxicity. However, the potentially protective effects of melatonin against cadmium-induced hepatotoxicity and the underlying mechanisms of this protection remain unclear. This study investigates the protective effects of melatonin pretreatment on cadmium-induced hepatotoxicity and elucidates the potential mechanism of melatonin-mediated protection. We exposed HepG2 cells to different concentrations of cadmium chloride (2.5, 5, and 10μM) for 12 h. We found that Cd stimulated cytotoxicity, disrupted the mitochondrial membrane potential, increased reactive oxygen species production, and decreased mitochondrial mass and mitochondrial DNA content. Consistent with this finding, Cd exposure was associated with decreased Sirtuin 1 (SIRT1) protein expression and activity, thus promoted acetylation of PGC-1 alpha, a key enzyme involved in mitochondrial biogenesis and function, although Cd did not disrupt the interaction between SIRT1 and PGC-1 alpha. However, all cadmium-induced mitochondrial oxidative injuries were efficiently attenuated by melatonin pretreatment. Moreover, Sirtinol and SIRT1 siRNA each blocked the melatonin-mediated elevation in mitochondrial function by inhibiting SIRT1/ PGC-1 alpha signaling. Luzindole, a melatonin receptor antagonist, was found to partially block the ability of melatonin to promote SIRT1/ PGC-1 alpha signaling. In summary, our results indicate that SIRT1 plays an essential role in the ability of moderate melatonin to stimulate PGC-1 alpha and improve mitochondrial biogenesis and function at least partially through melatonin receptors in cadmium-induced hepatotoxicity.
PMCID: PMC4226765  PMID: 25159133
melatonin; cadmium; hepatotoxicity; SIRT1; PGC-1 alpha; melatonin receptor 1
25.  Mitochondrial biogenesis in the metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease 
The metabolic syndrome is a constellation of metabolic disorders including obesity, hypertension, and insulin resistance, components which are risk factors for the development of diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular, and renal disease. Pathophysiological abnormalities that contribute to the development of the metabolic syndrome include impaired mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation and mitochondrial biogenesis, dampened insulin metabolic signaling, endothelial dysfunction, and associated myocardial functional abnormalities. Recent evidence suggests that impaired myocardial mitochondrial biogenesis, fatty acid metabolism, and antioxidant defense mechanisms lead to diminished cardiac substrate flexibility, decreased cardiac energetic efficiency, and diastolic dysfunction. In addition, enhanced activation of the renin–angiotensin–aldosterone system and associated increases in oxidative stress can lead to mitochondrial apoptosis and degradation, altered bioenergetics, and accumulation of lipids in the heart. In addition to impairments in metabolic signaling and oxidative stress, genetic and environmental factors, aging, and hyperglycemia all contribute to reduced mitochondrial biogenesis and mitochondrial dysfunction. These mitochondrial abnormalities can predispose a metabolic cardiomyopathy characterized by diastolic dysfunction. Mitochondrial dysfunction and resulting lipid accumulation in skeletal muscle, liver, and pancreas also impede insulin metabolic signaling and glucose metabolism, ultimately leading to a further increase in mitochondrial dysfunction. Interventions to improve mitochondrial function have been shown to correct insulin metabolic signaling and other metabolic and cardiovascular abnormalities. This review explores mechanisms of mitochondrial dysfunction with a focus on impaired oxidative phosphorylation and mitochondrial biogenesis in the pathophysiology of metabolic heart disease.
PMCID: PMC4319704  PMID: 20725711
Metabolic impairment; Oxidative phosphorylation; Mitochondrial biogenesis

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