Potent therapeutic effect of melatonin on aging skin in pinealectomized rats


Address reprint requests to Prof. Dr Mukaddes Eşrefoğlu, İnönüÜniversitesi, Tıp Fakültesi, Histoloji ve Embriyoloji Anabilim Dalı, 44280 Malatya, Türkiye.
E-mail: drmukaddes@hotmail.com


Abstract:  It is generally agreed that one of the major contributors to skin aging is reactive oxygen species. As organisms reach advanced age, free radical generation increases and the activity of tissue antioxidant enzyme system decreases. Melatonin is an antioxidant and free radical scavenger. The present study was first aimed to determine the morphometric and biochemical changes caused by long-term pinealectomy in order to investigate the role of melatonin as skin architecture. Secondly, the effect of exogenous melatonin administration on these changes was determined. Rats were pinealectomized or sham operated (control) for 6 months. Half of the pinealectomized rats were treated with 4 mg/kg melatonin during the last month of the experiment. Pinealectomy resulted in important morphometric and biochemical changes in the back, abdominal and thoracic skin. The thickness of epidermis and dermis and the number of dermal papillae and hair follicles were reduced. Melatonin administration to pinealectomized rats significantly improved these alterations in all body areas (P < 0.005). On the contrary, in pinealectomized rats the levels of antioxidant enzymes, catalase and glutathione peroxidase were decreased. Melatonin restored the levels of these enzymes. The pinealectomy-induced increases in lipid peroxidation in the abdominal and thoracic skin were significantly reduced by melatonin treatment (P < 0.005 and 0.01 respectively). These results suggest that melatonin is highly efficient anti-aging factor and, as melatonin levels decrease with age, melatonin treatment may reduce age-related skin changes.