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J Pineal Res. 2009 Oct;47(3):284-92. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-079X.2009.00712.x. Epub 2009 Aug 26.

Melatonin prolongs islet graft survival in diabetic NOD mice.

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Graduate Institute of Life Sciences, National Defense Medical Center, Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China.


Islet transplantation has been established as a potential therapy for type 1 diabetes. However, inflammation, allorejection, and on-going autoimmune damage contribute to early graft loss and failure of islet transplantation. Melatonin is the major secretory product of the pineal gland during the dark period of each day and displays multifunctional properties including the regulation of circadian and seasonal rhythms, antioxidation reactions and immune modulation. Based on the immunosuppressive properties of melatonin, we investigated whether melatonin treatment prolonged the survival of islet grafts in non-obese diabetic (NOD) mice. The mean islet graft survival time was 7.33 +/- 1.51 and 7.75 +/- 2.66 days in untreated controls and in the solvent-treated animals, respectively. Strikingly, the mean survival time of islet grafts in recipients treated with melatonin (200 mg/kg/bw) was 17 +/- 7.76 days. Moreover, melatonin treatment reduced the proliferation of splenocytes in NOD mice. Using a T1 and T2 double transgenic mouse model, we found that T helper 1 (Th1) cells in mice treated with melatonin were significantly decreased. The reduction of Th1 cells and T cell proliferation may result from an increase in the immunosuppressive cytokine IL-10. Our results indicate that melatonin treatment suppresses autoimmune recurrence by inhibiting the proliferation of Th1 cells in NOD mice and thus prolongs the survival of syngeneic islet grafts.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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