A significant body of literature indicates that melatonin, a hormone primarily produced nocturnally by the pineal gland, is an important scavenger of hydroxyl radicals and other reactive oxygen species. Melatonin may also lower the rate of DNA base damage resulting from hydroxyl radical attack and increase the rate of repair of that damage. This paper reports the results of a study relating the level of overnight melatonin production to the overnight excretion of the two primary urinary metabolites of the repair of oxidatively damaged guanine in DNA.
Mother-father-daughter(s) families (n = 55) were recruited and provided complete overnight urine samples. Total overnight creatinine-adjusted 6-sulphatoxymelatonin (aMT6s/Cr) has been shown to be highly correlated with total overnight melatonin production. Urinary 8-oxo-7,8-dihydro-guanine (8-oxoGua) results from the repair of DNA or RNA guanine via the nucleobase excision repair pathway, while urinary 8-oxo-7,8-dihydro-2'-deoxyguanosine (8-oxodG) may possibly result from the repair of DNA guanine via the nucleotide excision repair pathway. Total overnight urinary levels of 8-oxodG and 8-oxoGua are therefore a measure of total overnight guanine DNA damage. 8-oxodG and 8-oxoGua were measured using a high-performance liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry assay. The mother, father, and oldest sampled daughter were used for these analyses. Comparisons between the mothers, fathers, and daughters were calculated for aMT6s/Cr, 8-oxodG, and 8-oxoGua. Regression analyses of 8-oxodG and 8-oxoGua on aMT6s/Cr were conducted for mothers, fathers, and daughters separately, adjusting for age and BMI (or weight).
Among the mothers, age range 42-80, lower melatonin production (as measured by aMT6s/CR) was associated with significantly higher levels of 8-oxodG (p < 0.05), but not with 8-oxoGua. Among the fathers, age range 46-80, lower melatonin production was associated with marginally higher levels of 8-oxoGua (p < 0.07), but not with 8-oxodG. Among the daughters, no relationship was found between melatonin levels and either 8-oxodG or 8-oxoGua levels. When the mother and father data were further analyzed using only subjects older than the oldest daughter, the associations became somewhat stronger.
Low levels of endogenous melatonin production among older individuals may lead to higher levels of oxidatively damaged guanine in DNA, thereby possibly increasing the risk of developing cancer. The possible different effects of melatonin in the rates of utilization of pathways for repair of oxidatively damaged guanine in DNA identified between older women and older men are intriguing.