• melatonin;
  • diabetes mellitus;
  • lipid peroxidation;
  • reduced glutathione;
  • glutathione peroxidase;
  • superoxide dismutase;
  • antioxidants


In view of the antioxidant properties of melatonin, the effects of melatonin on the oxidative–antioxidative status of tissues affected by diabetes, e.g. liver, heart and kidneys, were investigated in streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetic rats in the present study. Concentrations of malondialdehyde (MDA) and reduced glutathione (GSH), and activities of superoxide dismutase (SOD) and glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px) in the tissues were compared in three groups of 10 rats each (control non-diabetic rats (group I), untreated diabetic rats (group II) and diabetic rats treated with melatonin (group III)). In the study groups, diabetes developed 3 days after intraperitoneal (i.p.) administration of a single 60 mg kg−1 dose of STZ. Thereafter, while the rats in group II received no treatment, the rats in group III began to receive a 10 mg kg−1 i.p. dose of melatonin per day. After 6 weeks, the rats in groups II and III had significantly lower body weights and higher blood glucose levels than the rats in group I (p < 0.001 and p < 0.001, respectively). MDA levels in the liver, kidney and heart of group II rats were higher than that of the control group (p < 0.01, p < 0.05, p < 0.01, respectively) and diabetic rats treated with melatonin (p < 0.05). The GSH, GSH-Px and SOD levels increased in diabetic rats. Treatment with melatonin changed them to near control values. Our results confirm that diabetes increases oxidative stress in many organs such as liver, kidney and heart and indicate the role of melatonin in combating the oxidative stress via its free radical-scavenging and antioxidant properties. Copyright © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.