Melatonin ameliorates nonalcoholic fatty liver induced by high-fat diet in rats


Address reprint request to Jian-ming Xu, Department of Gastroenterology of the First Affiliated Hospital, Anhui Medical University, Hefei 230022, China.


Abstract:  Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is an increasingly recognized condition that may progress to end-stage liver disease, which ranges from simple steatosis to steatohepatitis, advanced fibrosis, and cirrhosis. Oxidative stress and lipid peroxidation are key pathophysiological mechanisms in NAFLD. We investigate the preventive effects of intraperitoneal administration of melatonin (2.5, 5, 10 mg/kg, daily, respectively) in NAFLD rats induced by high-fat diets for 12 wk. Liver damage was evaluated by serological analysis, serum and hepatic lipid assay as well as hematoxylin–eosin staining in liver sections. Oxidative stress and lipid peroxidation were assessed by measuring malondialdehyde (MDA) levels and superoxide dismutase (SOD) and glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px) activities in liver. The results showed that high-fat diet induced oxidative stress with extensive liver steatosis in rats. Melatonin (5 or 10 mg/kg) was effective in reducing hepatic steatosis and inflammation with lowering serum alanine aminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferase, and levels liver total cholesterol and triglycerides in high-fat diet rats. Moreover, melatonin (2.5, 5, 10 mg/kg) increased SOD and GSH-Px activities and the 10 mg/kg dose of melatonin reduced MDA levels in liver. This study shows that melatonin exerts protective effects against fatty liver in rats induced by high-fat diet possibly through its antioxidant actions.