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J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2013 Jul;346(1):138-45. doi: 10.1124/jpet.112.202036. Epub 2013 Apr 16.

Melatonin and its analog 5-methoxycarbonylamino-N-acetyltryptamine potentiate adrenergic receptor-mediated ocular hypotensive effects in rabbits: significance for combination therapy in glaucoma.

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Departamento de Bioquímica, Facultad de Óptica y Optometría, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid, Spain.


Melatonin is currently considered a promising drug for glaucoma treatment because of its ocular hypotensive and neuroprotective effects. We have investigated the effect of melatonin and its analog 5-methoxycarbonylamino-N-acetyltryptamine, 5-MCA-NAT, on β₂/α(2A)-adrenergic receptor mRNA as well as protein expression in cultured rabbit nonpigmented ciliary epithelial cells. Quantitative polymerase chain reaction and immunocytochemical assays revealed a significant β₂-adrenergic receptor downregulation as well as α(2A)-adrenergic receptor up-regulation of treated cells (P < 0.001, maximal significant effect). In addition, we have studied the effect of these drugs upon the ocular hypotensive action of a nonselective β-adrenergic receptor (timolol) and a selective α₂-adrenergic receptor agonist (brimonidine) in normotensive rabbits. Intraocular pressure (IOP) experiments showed that the administration of timolol in rabbits pretreated with melatonin or 5-MCA-NAT evoked an additional IOP reduction of 14.02% ± 5.8% or 16.75% ± 5.48% (P < 0.01) in comparison with rabbits treated with timolol alone for 24 hours. Concerning brimonidine hypotensive action, an additional IOP reduction of 29.26% ± 5.21% or 39.07% ± 5.81% (P < 0.001) was observed in rabbits pretreated with melatonin or 5-MCA-NAT when compared with animals treated with brimonidine alone for 24 hours. Additionally, a sustained potentiating effect of a single dose of 5-MCA-NAT was seen in rabbits treated with brimonidine once daily for up 4 days (extra IOP decrease of 15.57% ± 5.15%, P < 0.05, compared with brimonidine alone). These data confirm the indirect action of melatoninergic compounds on adrenergic receptors and their remarkable effect upon the ocular hypotensive action mainly of α₂-adrenergic receptor agonists but also of β-adrenergic antagonists.

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