Cataractogenesis and lipid peroxidation in newborn rats treated with buthionine sulfoximine: Preventive actions of melatonin

Zhrong Ren Li, Russel J. Reiter, Osamu Fujimori, Chang Seok Oh, Yan Ping Duan

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64 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to examine the influence of exogenously administered melatonin on cataract formation and lipid peroxidation in newborn rats treated with buthionine sulfoximine (BSO), a drug which inhibits the rate-limiting enzyme in glutathione (GSH) synthesis, γ-glutamylcysteine synthase, thereby depleting animals of their stores of the important intracellular antioxidant, GSH. BSO (3 mmol/kg BW) was given for three consecutive days beginning on postnatal day 2; melatonin (4 mg/kg) was injected daily beginning on postnatal day 2 and continuing until the animals were killed (either day 9 or day 17 after birth). None of the control animals (rats treated with neither BSO nor with melatonin) developed lenticular opacification during the observation period. In the BSO-treated rats, 16 of 18 animals (89%) had observable cataracts when they were examined. In rats that received both BSO and melatonin, the incidence of cataracts was highly significantly decreased, i.e., only 3 of 18 rats (7%) had observable cataracts. In addition to cataracts, the level of lipid peroxidation products (malondialdehyde (MDA) and 4-hydroxyalkenals (4-HDA)) was examined in the lens, brain, liver, lung, and kidney of control and experimental animals. In BSO-treated rats, the lens, kidney, and lung exhibited increased levels of MDA plus 4-HDA relative to those measured in the control rats; these increases were reversed in the BSO-treated rats who were injected with melatonin daily. While BSO administration did not increase basal levels of MDA plus 4-HDA in either the brain or liver, melatonin reduced levels of lipid peroxidation products below those measured in the control rats (at 17 days after birth). The changes induced by melatonin are consistent with the free-radical scavenging and antioxidative properties of this indole.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-123
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of pineal research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 1997


  • Cataractogenesis
  • Glutathione
  • Lipid peroxidation
  • Malondialdehyde
  • Melatonin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology


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