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J Dermatol Sci. 2001 Nov;27(3):162-9.

The effects of the melatonin on ultraviolet-B irradiated cultured dermal fibroblasts.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology, School of Medicine, Keimyung University, Dong-San Dong 194, Choong-Gu, Taegu, South Korea.


It has been reported that reactive oxygen species (ROS) and oxygen-derived free radicals are generated by ultraviolet (UV) radiation and various chemicals and their important roles in cellular damage and apoptosis are being increasingly recognized. Melatonin is a hormone with multiple functions in humans, produced by the pineal gland and stimulated by beta-adrenergic receptors. Melatonin has been shown to have photo protection properties, but there has been little progress toward identifying the specific mechanisms of its action. To clarify the role of melatonin as a free radical scavenger, in response to ultraviolet-B (UVB) irradiation, we investigated the effects of UVB and melatonin on cytotoxicity, lipid peroxidation, terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated digoxigenin-dUTP nick end-labeling (TUNEL) assay and alteration of cell cycle in cultured skin fibroblast. Cell survival curves after UVB irradiation showed dose dependent decrement pattern by trypan blue exclusion assay. Only 56% of dermal fibroblasts were survived at 140 mJ/cm2 UVB irradiation. The damage was associated with cell membrane lipid peroxidation, as shown by accumulation malondialdehyde (MDA). By pre-cultivation with melatonin (10(-9) M), a significant preventive effect was noted on the increase in the absolute number of surviving cells (up to 92.5% of cells were survived) and the levels of MDA were markedly decreased. These finding suggest significant correlation between an increase of lipid peroxide and cell viability. Morphological changes associated with apoptotic cell death were easily distinguished by TUNEL stain. Quantitative analysis of DNA content of skin fibroblasts was evaluated by flow cytometric analysis performed after vital staining with propidium iodide. UVB suppresses the G1 progression induced pre-G1 arrest leading to apoptotic changes of dermal fibroblast and those are blocked by melatonin pre-treatment. The results show the photodynamic effects of UVB that supposes the production of ROS and arrest the cell cycle. Melatonin, which have newly accepted as a potential UV protection properties, is effective membrane peroxidation inhibitor and prevent the pre-G1 arrest when present in relevant concentration during UVB irradiation.

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