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Ultrastructural evaluation of the radioprotective effects of melatonin against X-ray-induced skin damage in Albino rats

Authors


Mahmoud R. Hussein MSc, MD, PhD
Department of Pathology
Faculty of Medicine
Assuit University
Assuit, Egypt
Tel.: +88 93 583 166
Fax: +88 33 272 727
E-mail: mrh17@swissinfo.org

Summary

Our knowledge about the radioprotective effects of melatonin against X-ray-induced skin damage is still lacking. To examine these effects, an animal model of 60 Albino rats was used. The animals were divided into five groups: Group 1, nonirradiated; Group 2, X-ray irradiated (XRI, 8 Gy); Group 3, XRI pretreated with solvent (ethanol and phosphate-buffered saline); Group 4, nonirradiated group treated with melatonin; and Group 5, XRI pretreated with melatonin. The skin was evaluated for ultrastructural changes using transmission electron microscopy (TEM). When compared to the nonirradiated skin (Groups 1 and 4), XRI skin (Groups 2 and 3) showed features of both cell injury and increased metabolic activity. The former included changes such as condensation of the nuclei, vacuolization of the cytoplasm, dilatation of the rough endoplasmic reticulum, swelling of the mitochondria with cristolysis, destruction of the ribosomes and intermediate filaments, fragmentation of the keratohyaline granules and loss of the irregularity of the basal cell borders. The central cells of the sebaceous gland alveoli had larger irregular nuclei and few lipid droplets in their cytoplasm. The hair follicle cells had heterochromatic nuclei and less electron dense cytoplasm containing few complements of the organelles. The features of increased metabolic activity included increased euchromatin, irregularity of the nuclear membrane and increased branching of the melanocytes. Also, an increased number of the Birbeck granules were seen in the Langerhans cells. When compared to the irradiated skin (Groups 2 and 3), these changes were mild or absent in the skin of XRI animals pretreated with melatonin (Group 5). The ability of melatonin to minimize the injurious effects of XRI suggests a radioprotective role. The clinical ramifications of these observations warrant further studies.

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