Melatonin has previously been shown to be neuroprotective in rodent models of ischemic stroke. Herein, we tested whether this antioxidant may also be suitable for prophylactic use against stroke. To clarify this issue, melatonin was administrated orally for 9 wk (4 mg/kg/day) in mice and its effects on subsequent injury development after 90 min of intraluminal middle cerebral artery (MCA) occlusion were tested. To evaluate its neuroprotective properties, the protective actions of prophylactic melatonin were compared with both acute melatonin (4 mg/kg, i.p.) administration and with a diluent (sham)-treated control condition. MCA occlusion resulted in reproducible ischemia, as revealed by laser Doppler flowmetry; this was followed by a rapid restoration of blood flow immediately after reperfusion onset. Laser Doppler flow values after reperfusion onset were moderately elevated by melatonin, both when the indole was given prophylactically and when acutely administrated after stroke. In control animals, reproducible brain infarcts were observed 24 hr after reperfusion onset. Treatment with melatonin significantly reduced the infarct size by ∼30-35%, independent of whether the indole was given prophylactically before or acutely after ischemia. To test whether brain protection involved vascular mechanisms, as suggested earlier, the effects of melatonin on endothelin converting enzyme-1 (ECE-1) levels were studied using Western blots. Interestingly, delivery of melatonin was accompanied by a marked inhibition of ECE-1 levels, which was similarly seen after both acute and chronic melatonin treatment. Our data suggest that melatonin, given at pharmacological doses, may be suitable as a prophylaxis against stroke. Tissue protection may involve an inhibition of ECE-1, which improves vasodilation, after ischemia.
- Endothelial function
- Free radical scavenging
- Intraluminal middle cerebral artery occlusion
- Secondary stroke prevention
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