Mechanisms for Radioprotection by Melatonin; Can it be Used as a Radiation Countermeasure?Curr Mol Pharmacol. 2019; 12(1):2-11.CM
Melatonin is a natural body product that has shown potent antioxidant property against various toxic agents. For more than two decades, the abilities of melatonin as a potent radioprotector against toxic effects of ionizing radiation (IR) have been proved. However, in the recent years, several studies have been conducted to illustrate how melatonin protects normal cells against IR. Studies proposed that melatonin is able to directly neutralize free radicals produced by IR, leading to the production of some low toxic products.
Moreover, melatonin affects several signaling pathways, such as inflammatory responses, antioxidant defense, DNA repair response enzymes, pro-oxidant enzymes etc. Animal studies have confirmed that melatonin is able to alleviate radiation-induced cell death via inhibiting pro-apoptosis and upregulation of anti-apoptosis genes. These properties are very interesting for clinical radiotherapy applications, as well as mitigation of radiation injury in a possible radiation disaster. An interesting property of melatonin is mitochondrial ROS targeting that has been proposed as a strategy for mitigating effects in radiosensitive organs, such as bone marrow, gastrointestinal system and lungs. However, there is a need to prove the mitigatory effects of melatonin in experimental studies.
In this review, we aim to clarify the molecular mechanisms of radioprotective effects of melatonin, as well as possible applications as a radiation countermeasure in accidental exposure or nuclear/radiological disasters.