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Melatonin mitigates mitochondrial malfunction *

 Melatonin, or N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine, is a compound derived from tryptophan that is found in all organisms from unicells to vertebrates. This indoleamine may act as a protective agent in disease conditions such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, aging, sepsis and other disorders including ischemia/reperfusion. In addition, melatonin has been proposed as a drug for the treatment of cancer.

These disorders have in common a dysfunction of the apoptotic program. Thus, while defects which reduce apoptotic processes can exaggerate cancer, neurodegenerative disorders and ischemic conditions are made worse by enhanced apoptosis. The mechanism by which melatonin controls cell death is not entirely known.

 Recently, mitochondria, which are implicated in the intrinsic pathway of apoptosis, have been identified as a target for melatonin actions. It is known that melatonin scavenges oxygen and nitrogen-based reactants generated in mitochondria. This limits the loss of the intramitochondrial glutathione and lowers mitochondrial protein damage, improving electron transport chain (ETC) activity and reducing mtDNA damage.

Melatonin also increases the activity of the complex I and complex IV of the ETC, thereby improving mitochondrial respiration and increasing ATP synthesis under normal and stressful conditions.

These effects reflect the ability of melatonin to reduce the harmful reduction in the mitochondrial membrane potential that may trigger mitochondrial transition pore (MTP) opening and the apoptotic cascade. In addition, a reported direct action of melatonin in the control of currents through the MTP opens a new perspective in the understanding of the regulation of apoptotic cell death by the indoleamine.

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As with any procedure, there could be pain or other substantial risks involved. These concerns should be discussed with your health care provider prior to any treatment so that you have proper informed consent and understand that there are no guarantees to healing.

THE INFORMATION IN THIS WEBSITE IS OFFERED FOR GENERAL EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND DOES NOT IMPLY OR GIVE MEDICAL ADVICE. No Doctor/Patient relationship shall be deemed to have arisen simply by reading the information contained on these pages, and you should consult with your personal physician/care giver regarding your medical treatment before undergoing any sort of treatment or therapy.

Published on 01-13-2008