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J Biomed Res. 2016 Jul;30(4):314-21. doi: 10.7555/JBR.30.2016K0010. Epub 2016 May 20.

Pharmacological advantages of melatonin in immunosenescence by improving activity of T lymphocytes.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, College of Health Science, Yonsei University, Wonju, Gangwon-do 220-710, Republic of Korea.
College of Life Science, Gangneung-Wonju National University, Gangneung, Gangwon-do 210-702, Republic of Korea.
Industry-Academic Cooperation Foundation, Hanbat National University, Daejeon 305-719, Republic of Korea.
College of Life Science, Gangneung-Wonju National University, Gangneung, Gangwon-do 210-702, Republic of Korea.


Melatonin plays a critical role in regulating photoperiodic signals and has recently been shown to decrease immunosenescence with age. In this study, we examined whether melatonin activates T lymphocytes as major adaptive immune cells in in vitro and in vivo models. Splenocytes, CD4(+), and naïve CD4 T lymphocytes were isolated from the spleen of BALB/c mice and the cell population patterns and mRNA profiles associated with T cell activation (CD28 and p21) and the melatonin receptor (MT1A and MT1B) were assessed. The T cell activation-related proteins Ki67 and Bcl2 were also evaluated to confirm the relationship between gene and protein levels. Our data clearly revealed that CD28, p21, MT1A, and MT1B mRNA were highly expressed in the presence of melatonin. Co-culture of CD4(+) T lymphocyte and peritoneal macrophage 7 days after melatonin administration to young and aged mice significantly increased APRIL mRNA, suggesting induction or maintenance of T lymphocyte responses. We also found that the intracellular amount of Ki67 and Bcl2 proteins were significantly upregulated in aged CD4(+) T lymphocytes, suggesting enhancing T cell proliferation and ling-term maintenance of memory T cells. Taken together, we conclude that melatonin supplementation may enhance immunity in aged individuals by upregulating immunosenescence indices in association with T lymphocytes and may be an attractive pharmacological candidate for aged and immunocompromised individuals.


CD4+; aging; melatonin; melatonin receptor; naïve CD4

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