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Free Radic Biol Med. 2012 May 1;52(9):1634-47. doi: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2012.01.030. Epub 2012 Feb 10.

Melatonin ameliorates neural function by promoting endogenous neurogenesis through the MT2 melatonin receptor in ischemic-stroke mice.

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Division of Neurovascular Disease, Neurological Institute, Taipei Veterans General Hospital and School of Medicine, National Yang-Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan.


Melatonin has many protective effects against ischemic stroke, but the underlying neuroprotective mechanisms are not fully understood. Our aim was to explore the relationship between melatonin's neuroprotective effects and activation of the MT2 melatonin receptor in a murine ischemic-stroke model. Male ICR mice were subjected to a transient middle cerebral ischemic/reperfusional injury, and melatonin (5 and 10 mg/kg, ip) was administrated once daily starting 2 h after ischemia. More than 80% of the mice died within 5 days after stroke without treatment. Melatonin treatment significantly improved the survival rates and neural functioning with modestly prolonged life span of the stroke mice by preserving blood-brain barrier (BBB) integrity via a reduction in the enormous amount of stroke-induced free radical production and significant gp91(phox) cell infiltration. These protective effects of melatonin were reversed by pretreatment with MT2 melatonin receptor antagonists (4-phenyl-2-propionamidotetralin (4P-PDOT) and luzindole). Moreover, treatment with melatonin after stroke dramatically enhanced endogenous neurogenesis (doublecortin positive) and cell proliferation (ki67 positive) in the peri-infarct regions. Most ki67-positive cells were nestin-positive and NG2-positive neural stem/progenitor cells that coexpressed two neurodevelopmental proteins (adam11 and adamts20) and the MT2 melatonin receptor. RT-PCR revealed that the gene expression levels of doublecortin, ki67, adamts20, and adam11 are markedly reduced by stroke, but are restored by melatonin treatment; furthermore, pretreatment with 4P-PDOT and luzindole antagonized melatonin's restorative effect. Our results support the hypothesis that melatonin is able to protect mice against stroke by activating MT2 melatonin receptors, which reduces oxidative/inflammatory stress. This results in the preservation of BBB integrity and enhances endogenous neurogenesis by upregulating neurodevelopmental gene/protein expression.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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