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Keywords:

  • antioxidants;
  • cholesterol;
  • melatonin;
  • pineal

The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of melatonin, at pharmacological doses, on serum lipids of rats fed with a hypercholesterolemic diet. Therefore, different groups of animals were fed with either the regular Sanders Chow diet or a diet enriched in cholesterol. Moreover, animals were treated with or without melatonin in the drinking water for 3 months. We show that melatonin treatment did not affect the levels of cholesterol or triglycerides in rats fed with a regular diet. However, the increase in total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-cholesterol induced by a cholesterol-enriched diet was reduced significantly by melatonin administration. On the other hand, melatonin administration prevented the decrease in high-density lipoprotein (HDL)-cholesterol induced by the same diet. No differences in the levels of very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL)-cholesterol and triglycerides were found. We also found that melatonin administration slightly decreased serum uric, bilirubin and increased serum glucose levels. Other biochemical parameters, including total proteins, creatinine, urea, phosphorus, calcium, glutamic oxalacetic transaminase (GOT), glutamic pyruvic transaminase (GPT), Γ-glutamyltranspeptidase (Γ-GT), acetyl cholinesterase (AcCho), and alkaline phosphatase (ALP) were not modified by melatonin treatment. Finally, lipid peroxidation (LPO) was studied in membranes of liver, brain, spleen, and heart as an index of membrane oxidative damage. Results show that hypercholesterolemic diet did not modify the LPO status in any of the tissues studied. However, chronic melatonin administration significantly decreased LPO. Results confirm that melatonin participates in the regulation of cholesterol metabolism and in the prevention of oxidative damage to membranes.