Pretreatment with melatonin exerts anti-inflammatory effects against ischemia/reperfusion injury in a rat middle cerebral artery occlusion stroke model

Zhong Pei, Raymond Tak Fai Cheung
Journal of Pineal Research 2004, 37 (2): 85-91
Inflammatory response following cerebral ischemia/reperfusion plays a key pathogenic role in ischemic cerebral damage. Nitric oxide (NO), cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) and myeloperoxidase (MPO) are important inflammatory mediators. Neuronal NO synthase (nNOS) is a major initial source of excessive NO during ischemia/reperfusion. Induction of COX-2 and infiltration of polymorphonuclear cells expressing MPO are critical factors in delayed inflammatory damage. Previously, we demonstrated that administration of melatonin before ischemia significantly reduced the infarct volume in a rat middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) stroke model. In this study, we examined the effect of pretreatment with melatonin at 5 mg/kg on the immunoreactivity (ir) for nNOS, COX-2, MPO, and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) at 24, 48, and 72 hr after right-sided endovascular MCAO for 1 hr in adult male Sprague-Dawley rats. Melatonin did not affect the hemodynamic parameters. When compared with rats with sham MCAO, ischemia/reperfusion led to an ipsilateral increase in cells with positive ir for nNOS (similar at all times) and in ir-GFAP (similar at all times). Ischemia/reperfusion led to appearance of cells with positive ir for COX-2 (greatest at 24 hr with a tendency to increase again at 72 hr) or MPO (greatest at 24 hr). A single dose of melatonin significantly lessened the ipsilateral increase in cells with positive ir for nNOS, COX-2 or MPO, but did not influence the ipsilateral change in ir-GFAP. Our results suggest that melatonin treatment mediates neuroprotection against ischemia/reperfusion injury partly via inhibition of the consequential inflammatory response.

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