Mitochondrial and metabolic dysfunction in renal convoluted tubules of obese mice: Protective role of melatonin

Alessandra Stacchiotti, Gaia Favero, Lorena Giugno, Antonio Lavazza, Russel J. Reiter, Luigi Fabrizio Rodella, Rita Rezzani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Obesity is a common and complex health problem, which impacts crucial organs; it is also considered an independent risk factor for chronic kidney disease. Few studies have analyzed the consequence of obesity in the renal proximal convoluted tubules, which are the major tubules involved in reabsorptive processes. For optimal performance of the kidney, energy is primarily provided by mitochondria. Melatonin, an indoleamine and antioxidant, has been identified in mitochondria, and there is considerable evidence regarding its essential role in the prevention of oxidative mitochondrial damage. In this study we evaluated the mechanism(s) of mitochondrial alterations in an animal model of obesity (ob/ob mice) and describe the beneficial effects of melatonin treatment on mitochondrial morphology and dynamics as influenced by mitofusin-2 and the intrinsic apoptotic cascade. Melatonin dissolved in 1% ethanol was added to the drinking water from postnatal week 5-13; the calculated dose of melatonin intake was 100 mg/kg body weight/day. Compared to control mice, obesity-related morphological alterations were apparent in the proximal tubules which contained round mitochondria with irregular, short cristae and cells with elevated apoptotic index. Melatonin supplementation in obese mice changed mitochondria shape and cristae organization of proximal tubules, enhanced mitofusin-2 expression, which in turn modulated the progression of the mitochondria-driven intrinsic apoptotic pathway. These changes possibly aid in reducing renal failure. The melatonin-mediated changes indicate its potential protective use against renal morphological damage and dysfunction associated with obesity and metabolic disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number111141
JournalPloS one
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 27 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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