Administration of melatonin and related indoles prevents exercise-induced cellular oxidative changes in rats

Masayuki Hara, Masayuki Iigo, Ritsuko Ohtani-Kaneko, Naoko Nakamura, Takuro Suzuki, Russel J. Reiter, Kazuaki Hirata

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


In an attempt to define the role of the pineal hormone melatonin and two analogues (5-methoxytryptamine, 5MT, and 6-hydroxymelatonin, 6HM) in limiting oxidative stress, the present study investigated the changes in glutathione, lipid peroxidation, and the activity of the antioxidant enzyme glutathione peroxidase after exercise (swimming for 60 min) with or without treatment with the indolamines mentioned. Lipid peroxidation was measured by estimating tissue levels of malondialdehyde and 4-hydroxyalkenals; the experimental animals in these studies were male Sprague-Dawley rats. In the liver, swimming exercise increased the levels of reduced glutathione (GSH) and also significantly increasing oxidized glutathione (GSSG), while decreasing the GSH/GSSG ratio, an index directly related to oxidative stress. When the animals were treated with melatonin, the concentrations of GSH and GSSG were also increased after swimming; however, no reduction in the GSH/GSSG ratio appeared. In the animals treated with 6HM the changes were the same as in those treated with melatonin. In muscle as well, the concentration of GSH and the GSH/GSSG ratio were decreased following 60 min of swimming. Pretreatment of the rats with melatonin prevented these effects. Pretreatment of the rats with both 5MT and 6HM also prevented the changes. Brain GSH/GSSG ratio was not affected by either exercise or indolamine administration. Swimming enhanced lipid peroxidation in the liver, muscle and brain; however, this was prevented in animals treated with melatonin or 6HM before swimming. Glutathione peroxidase was significantly elevated after exercise in the brain but not in the liver and muscle. It is concluded that swimming imposes a severe oxidative stress and suggests that melatonin and, to a lesser degree, 5MT and 6HM confer protection against the oxidative damage associated with swimming for 60 min. This mechanism may be reasonably attributed to their indole structure, which possibly allows these molecules to act as free-radical scavengers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)90-100
Number of pages11
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1997


  • 5-Methoxytryptamine
  • 6-Hydroxymelatonin
  • Brain
  • Liver
  • Melatonin
  • Oxidative stress
  • Skeletal muscle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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