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Radioprotective effect of melatonin assessed by measuring chromosomal damage in mitotic and meiotic cells.


This study was taken to evaluate the radioprotective effects of melatonin. Male adult albino mice were treated (intraperitoneal, i.p.) with 10 mg/kg melatonin either 1 h before or 1/2 h after exposure to 1.5 Gy of gamma-irradiation. Control, melatonin, irradiated and melatonin plus irradiation groups were sacrificed 24 h following treatment. The incidence of micronuclei (MN) in bone marrow cells was determined in all groups. The results show that melatonin caused a significant reduction in micronuclei polychromatic erythrocytes (MNPCE) when animals were treated with melatonin before and not after exposure to radiation. Mitotic and meiotic metaphases were prepared from spermatogonial and primary spermatocytes, respectively. Examination and analysis of metaphases showed no mutagenic effect of melatonin on chromosomal aberration (CA) frequency in spermatogonial chromosomes. Administration of one single dose of melatonin to animals before irradiation lowered total CA from 46 to 32%. However, no significant effect was observed when melatonin was given after irradiation. Similarly, the frequency of CA in meiotic metaphases decreased from 43.5% in the irradiated group to 31.5% in the irradiated group treated with melatonin 1 h before irradiation, but no change was observed when melatonin was administered after irradiation. The data obtained in this study suggest that melatonin administration confers protection against damage inflicted by radiation when given prior to exposure to irradiation and not after, and support the contention that melatonin radioprotection is achieved by its ability as a scavenger for free radicals generated by ionizing radiation.


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    Division of Cell Biology, Anatomy Department, Faculty of Medicine, Suez Canal University, Ismailia, Egypt.



    Mutation research 444:2 1999 Aug 18 pg 367-72


    Chromosome Aberrations
    Micronucleus Tests
    Radiation-Protective Agents

    Pub Type(s)

    Journal Article



    PubMed ID