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FASEB J. 1996 Nov;10(13):1546-51.

Increased brain damage after stroke or excitotoxic seizures in melatonin-deficient rats.

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The Psychiatric Institute, University of Illinois, Chicago 60612, USA.


The pineal hormone melatonin is neuroprotective in vitro, and in vivo it is neuroprotective when given in pharmacological doses. Consequently, it has been hypothesized that with aging, as circulating levels of melatonin in mammals normally decrease, the brain might be at increased risk of neurodegeneration. However, direct evidence that melatonin deficiency leads to increased brain vulnerability is still lacking. We created melatonin deficiency in rats by pinealectomy and induced neurodegeneration by two models of focal brain ischemia/stroke and by glutamate receptor-mediated, epilepsy-like seizures. We observed greater neurodegeneration in melatonin-deficient animals than in controls. Our results suggest that endogenous melatonin may play a neuroprotective role, and that melatonin deficiency might be a pathophysiological mechanism in neurodegenerative diseases.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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