Melatonin and its derivatives cyclic 3-hydroxymelatonin, N1-acetyl-N2-formyl-5-methoxykynuramine and 6-methoxymelatonin reduce oxidative DNA damage induced by Fenton reagents

Silvia López-Burillo, Dun Xian Tan, Vergelina Rodriguez-Gallego, Lucien C. Manchester, Juan Carlos Mayo, Rosa Maria Sainz, Russel J. Reiter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Free radicals are generated in vivo and they oxidatively damage DNA because of their high reactivities. In the last several years, hundreds of publications have confirmed that melatonin is a potent endogenous free radical scavenger. Some of the metabolites produced as a result of these scavenging actions have been identified using pure chemical systems. This is the case with both N1-acetyl-N2-formyl-5-methoxykynuramine (AFMK), identified as a product of the scavenging reaction of H2O2 by melatonin, and cyclic 3-hydroxymelatonin (C-3-OHM) which results when melatonin detoxifies two hydroxyl radicals (.OH). In the present in vitro study, we investigated the potential of two different derivatives of melatonin to scavenger free radicals. One of these derivatives is C-3-OHM, while the other is 6-methoxymelatonin (6-MthM). We also examined the effect of two solvents, i.e., methanol and acetonitrile, in this model system. As an endpoint, using high-performance liquid chromatography we measured the formation of 8-hydroxy-2′-deoxyguanosine (8-OH-dG) in purified calf thymus DNA treated with the Fenton reagents, chromium(III) [Cr(III)] plus H2O2, in the presence and in the absence of these molecules. The 8-OH-dG is considered a biomarker of oxidative DNA damage. Increasing concentrations of Cr(III) (as CrCl3) and H2O2 was earlier found to induce progressively greater levels of 8-OH-dG in isolated calf thymus DNA because of the generation of .OH via the Fenton-type reaction. We found that C-3-OHM reduces .OH-mediated damage in a dose-dependent manner, with an IC50 = 5.0 ± 0.2 μM; melatonin has an IC50 = 3.6 ± 0.1 μM. These values differ statistically significantly with P < 0.05. In these studies, AFMK had an IC50 = 17.8 ± 0.7 μM (P < 0.01). The 6-MthM also reduced DNA damage in a dose-dependent manner, with an IC50 = 4.2 ± 0.2 μM; this value does not differ from the ICs for melatonin and C-3-OHM. We propose a hypothetical reaction pathway in which a mole of C-3-OHM scavenges 2 mol of .OH yielding AFMK as a final product. As AFMK is also a free radical scavenger, the action of melatonin as a free radical scavenger is a sequence of scavenging reactions in which the products are themselves scavengers, resulting in a cascade of protective reactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)178-184
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of pineal research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2003


  • 6-methoxymelatonin
  • 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine
  • Chromium
  • Cyclic 3-hydroxymelatonin
  • Hydroxyl radical
  • Melatonin
  • N-acetyl-N-formyl-5-methoxykynuramine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology


Dive into the research topics of 'Melatonin and its derivatives cyclic 3-hydroxymelatonin, N<sup>1</sup>-acetyl-N<sup>2</sup>-formyl-5-methoxykynuramine and 6-methoxymelatonin reduce oxidative DNA damage induced by Fenton reagents'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this