Suppressive effect of melatonin administration on ethanol-induced gastroduodenal injury in rats in vivo

Daniela Melchiorri, Ewa Sewerynek, Russel J. Reiter, Genaro G. Ortiz, Burkhard Poeggeler, Giuseppe Nisticò

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84 Scopus citations


1. Melatonin protection against ethanol-induced gastroduodenal injury was investigated in duodenum-ligated rats. 2. Melatonin, injected i.p. 30 min before administration of 1 ml of absolute ethanol, given by gavage, significantly decreased ethanol-induced macroscopic, histological and biochemical changes in the gastroduodenal mucosa. 3. Ethanol-induced lesions were detectable as haemorrhagic streaks. Ethanol administration damaged 36% and 25% of the total gastric and duodenal surface, respectively. Melatonin treatment reduced ethanol-induced gastric and duodenal damage to 14% and 8%, respectively. When indomethacin was given together with ethanol, the gastric damaged area was 44% of the total surface, while the duodenal damaged area was 35%; melatonin administration reduced the damage to only 13% of the total gastric surface and to 12% of total duodenal surface. 4. Both stomach and duodenum of ethanol-treated animals showed polymorphonuclear leukocyte (PMN) infiltration. The number of PMN increased more than 600 and 200 times in stomach and duodenum, respectively, following ethanol administration. Melatonin treatment reduced ethanol-induced PMN infiltration by 38% in the stomach and 20% in the duodenum. In indomethacin-ethanol-treated rats, the number of PMN increased by 875% compared to control group in the stomach and by 264% in duodenum. Melatonin administration reduced the indomethacin-ethanol-induced PMN rise by 57% in the stomach and 40% in the duodenum. 5. Gastroduodenal total glutathione (tGSH) concentration and glutathione reductase (GSSG-Rd) activity were significantly reduced following ethanol and indomethacin-ethanol administration. Melatonin ameliorated both the decrease in tGSH concentration as well as the reduction of GSSG-Rd activity elicited by ethanol both in the stomach and duodenum; melatonin was effective against indomethacin-ethanol-induced damage only in the stomach. 6. Ethanol-induced gastroduodenal damage is believed to be mediated by the generation of free radicals. Recently, a number of in vivo and in vitro experiments have shown melatonin to be an effective antioxidant and free radical scavenger; thus, we conclude that the protection by melatonin against ethanol-induced gastroduodenal injury is due, at least in part, to its radical scavenging activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)264-270
Number of pages7
JournalBritish Journal of Pharmacology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1997


  • Duodenum
  • Erosion
  • Ethanol
  • Free radicals
  • GSH
  • GSSG-Rd
  • Melatonin
  • Stomach

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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