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Pharmacol Res. 2002 Sep;46(3):235-43.

Studies on the anti-inflammatory and anti-nociceptive effects of melatonin in the rat.

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Department of Pharmacology, National Research Centre, Tahrir St, Dokki, Cairo, Egypt.


The present study aimed to evaluate the anti-inflammatory and anti-nociceptive effects of melatonin in the rat. Acute inflammation was induced by sub-plantar injection of carrageenan (1%) in the rat hind paw. The rats received vehicle or drug 30 min before carrageenan administration and were evaluated for paw oedema at 1, 2, 3, and 4 h post-carrageenan. The induced inflammation and the formation of oedema were determined by measurement of the paw thickness. Nociception was tested by determining vocalization following electrical stimulation of the tail. Given intraperitoneally (i.p.) 30 min before carrageenan, melatonin caused significant and a dose-dependent reduction of hind paw swelling induced by carrageenan. At doses of 0.5 and 1 mg kg(-1), melatonin inhibited the carrageenan-induced oedema by 20.5 and 29.6% versus control values at 4 h post-carrageenan, respectively. Melatonin (0.5 and 1 mg kg(-1), i.p.) 30 min beforehand displayed anti-nociceptive effect in the electric stimulation of the rat tail test, increasing nociceptive thresholds to electrically-induced pain at 4 h post-treatment by 29.6 and 39.5%, respectively. Melatonin given simultaneously with the non-selective COX-1 and COX-2 inhibitor indomethacin (5 mg kg(-1), i.p.) 30 min prior to carrageenan, enhanced the anti-inflammatory effect of the latter in the carrageenan-induced paw oedema model by 23%. Melatonin (0.5 mg kg(-1), i.p.) increased the anti-nociceptive effect of indomethacin (5 mg kg(-1), i.p.). Meanwhile, the anti-inflammatory and anti-nociceptive effect of the highly selective COX-2 inhibitor rofecoxib (2.25 mg kg(-1), i.p.) was only slightly increased by melatonin administration at 0.5 mg kg(-1). Melatonin enhanced the anti-inflammatory effect of cysteamine (300 mg kg(-1), s.c.) in the carrageenan-induced paw oedema. Melatonin (20 and 40 microg per paw) given prior to carrageenan into the rat hind paw was devoid of anti-inflammatory effect. These results indicate that melatonin possesses anti-inflammatory and anti-nociceptive properties in the rat and enhance those of indomethacin. This effect is likely to be centrally mediated.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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