Melatonin increases survival and inhibits oxidative and amyloid pathology in a transgenic model of Alzheimer's disease

Authors


Address correspondence and reprint requests to Miguel A. Pappolla, Pathology Department, USA Medical Center, 2451 Fillingim St., Mobile, AL 36617, USA. E-mail: memorycenter@aol.com

Abstract

Increased levels of a 40–42 amino-acid peptide called the amyloid β protein (Aβ) and evidence of oxidative damage are early neuropathological markers of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Previous investigations have demonstrated that melatonin is decreased during the aging process and that patients with AD have more profound reductions of this hormone. It has also been recently shown that melatonin protects neuronal cells from Aβ-mediated oxidative damage and inhibits the formation of amyloid fibrils in vitro. However, a direct relationship between melatonin and the biochemical pathology of AD had not been demonstrated. We used a transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer's amyloidosis and monitored over time the effects of administering melatonin on brain levels of Aβ, abnormal protein nitration, and survival of the mice. We report here that administration of melatonin partially inhibited the expected time-dependent elevation of β-amyloid, reduced abnormal nitration of proteins, and increased survival in the treated transgenic mice. These findings may bear relevance to the pathogenesis and therapy of AD.

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