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Free Radic Biol Med. 2009 Oct 1;47(7):969-74. doi: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2009.06.032. Epub 2009 Jul 2.

Melatonin inhibits cardiolipin peroxidation in mitochondria and prevents the mitochondrial permeability transition and cytochrome c release.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and CNR Institute of Biomembranes and Bioenergetics, University of Bari, 70126 Bari, Italy.


Cardiolipin oxidation is emerging as an important factor in mitochondrial dysfunction as well as in the initial phase of the apoptotic process. We have previously shown that exogenously added peroxidized cardiolipin sensitizes mitochondria to Ca(2+)-induced mitochondrial permeability transition (MPT) pore opening and promotes the release of cytochrome c. In this work, the effects of intramitochondrial cardiolipin peroxidation on Ca(2+)-induced MPT and on the cytochrome c release from mitochondria were studied. The effects of melatonin, a compound known to protect the mitochondria from oxidative damage, on both of these processes were also tested. tert-Butylhydroperoxide (t-BuOOH), a lipid-soluble peroxide that promotes lipid peroxidation, was used to induce intramitochondrial cardiolipin peroxidation. Exposure of heart mitochondria to t-BuOOH resulted in the oxidation of cardiolipin, associated with an increased sensitivity of mitochondria to Ca(2+)-induced MPT and with the release of cytochrome c from the mitochondria. All these processes were inhibited by micromolar concentrations of melatonin. It is proposed that melatonin inhibits cardiolipin peroxidation in mitochondria, and this effect seems to be responsible for the protection afforded by this agent against the MPT induction and cytochrome c release. Thus, manipulating the oxidation sensitivity of cardiolipin with melatonin may help to control MPT and cytochrome c release, events associated with cell death, and thus, be used for treatment of those disorders characterized by mitochondrial cardiolipin oxidation and Ca(2+) overload.

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