Send to

Choose Destination
PLoS One. 2014 Sep 3;9(9):e106332. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0106332. eCollection 2014.

The cellular state determines the effect of melatonin on the survival of mixed cerebellar cell culture.

Author information

Laboratory of Chronopharmacology, Institute of Bioscience, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil.


The constitutive activation of nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB), a key transcription factor involved in neuroinflammation, is essential for the survival of neurons in situ and of cerebellar granule cells in culture. Melatonin is known to inhibit the activation of NF-κB and has a cytoprotective function. In this study, we evaluated whether the cytoprotective effect of melatonin depends on the state of activation of a mixed cerebellar culture that is composed predominantly of granule cells; we tested the effect of melatonin on cultured rat cerebellar cells stimulated or not with lipopolysaccharide (LPS). The addition of melatonin (0.1 nM-1 µM) reduced the survival of naïve cells while inhibiting LPS-induced cell death. Melatonin (100 nM) transiently (15 min) inhibited the nuclear translocation of both NF-κB dimers (p50/p50, p50/RelA) and, after 60 min, increased the activation of p50/RelA. Melatonin-induced p50/RelA activity in naïve cells resulted in the transcription of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and the production of NO. Otherwise, in cultures treated with LPS, melatonin blocked the LPS-induced activation of p50/RelA and the reduction in p50/p50 levels and inhibited iNOS expression and NO synthesis. Therefore, melatonin in vehicle-treated cells induces cell death, while it protects against LPS-induced cytotoxicity. In summary, we confirmed that melatonin is a neuroprotective drug when cerebellar cells are challenged; however, melatonin can also lead to cell death when the normal balance of the NF-κB pathway is disturbed. Our data provide a mechanistic basis for understanding the influence of cell context on the final output response of melatonin.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Public Library of Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center