Melatonin: The watchdog of villous trophoblast homeostasis against hypoxia/reoxygenation-induced oxidative stress and apoptosis

Dave Lanoix, Andrée Anne Lacasse, Russel J. Reiter, Cathy Vaillancourt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

38 Scopus citations


Human placenta produces melatonin and expresses its receptors. We propose that melatonin, an antioxidant, protects the human placenta against hypoxia/reoxygenation (H/R)-induced damage. Primary term villous cytotrophoblasts were cultured under normoxia (8% O2) with or without 1mM melatonin for 72h to induce differentiation into the syncytiotrophoblast. The cells were then cultured for an additional 22h under normoxia or subjected to hypoxia (0.5% O2) for 4h followed by 18h reoxygenation (8% O2) with or without melatonin. H/R induced oxidative stress, which activated the Bax/Bcl-2 mitochondrial apoptosis pathway and the downstream fragmentation of DNA. Villous trophoblast treatment with melatonin reversed all the negative effects induced by H/R to normoxic levels. This study shows that melatonin protects the villous trophoblast against H/R-induced oxidative stress and apoptosis and suggests a potential preventive and therapeutic use of this indolamine in pregnancy complications characterized by syncytiotrophoblast survival alteration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-45
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular and Cellular Endocrinology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Dec 5 2013



  • Antioxidant
  • Mitochondrial apoptosis
  • Reactive oxygen species
  • Villous trophoblast

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology

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