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Proc Soc Exp Biol Med. 2000 Oct;225(1):9-22.

Antioxidative effects of melatonin in protection against cellular damage caused by ionizing radiation.

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  • 1Department of Cellular and Structural Biology, University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, Texas 78229-3900, USA.


Ionizing radiation is classified as a potent carcinogen, and its injury to living cells is, to a large extent, due to oxidative stress. The molecule most often reported to be damaged by ionizing radiation is DNA. Hydroxyl radicals (*OH), considered the most damaging of all free radicals generated in organisms, are often responsible for DNA damage caused by ionizing radiation. Melatonin, N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine, is a well-known antioxidant that protects DNA, lipids, and proteins from free-radical damage. The indoleamine manifests its antioxidative properties by stimulating the activities of antioxidant enzymes and scavenging free radicals directly or indirectly. Among known antioxidants, melatonin is a highly effective scavenger of *OH. Melatonin is distributed ubiquitously in organisms and, as far as is known, in all cellular compartments, and it quickly passes through all biological membranes. The protective effects of melatonin against oxidative stress caused by ionizing radiation have been documented in in vitro and in vivo studies in different species and in in vitro experiments that used human tissues, as well as when melatonin was given to humans and then tissues collected and subjected to ionizing radiation. The radioprotective effects of melatonin against cellular damage caused by oxidative stress and its low toxicity make this molecule a potential supplement in the treatment or co-treatment in situations where the effects of ionizing radiation are to be minimized.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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