Interactions of melatonin with membrane models: Portioning of melatonin in AOT and lecithin reversed micelles


Address reprint requests to M. A. Livrea, Istituto di Farmacologia e Farmacognosia, Universita' di Palermo, Via C. Forlanini, 1, 90134 Palermo, Italy. E-mail:


Abstract: The interaction of melatonin with water containing either sodium bis (2-ethylhexyl) sulfosuccinate (AOT) or soybean phosphatidylcholine (lecithin) reversed micelles has been investigated by UV absorption spectroscopy, at a molar ratio of melatonin: surfactant 1: 800 for AOT and 1: 400 for lecithin reversed micelles, and by varying the water:surfactant molar ratio (R). Our results suggest that in the presence of domains from apolar organic solvent to surfactant and to water, melatonin positions itself in the micellar phase, with a preferential location in the surfactant polar head group domain, independent of the nature of the surfactant and the amount of water encapsulated into the micellar core. Effects are due to the hydrophilic and lipophilic moieties of melatonin. The effectiveness of melatonin as an electron donor and free radical scavenger has been recently recognized. While supporting the hypothesis that melatonin may provide antioxidant protection without the benefit of receptors, present findings may suggest that the molecule could easily scavenge aqueous as well as lipophilic radicals.