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Beneficial effects of melatonin on obesity and lipid profile in young Zucker diabetic fatty rats


Address reprint requests to Ahmad Agil, PhD, Department of Pharmacology and Neurosciences Institute, University of Granada, School of Medicine, E-18012, Granada, Spain.


Abstract:  The study objective was to investigate the effects of melatonin on obesity and obesity-associated systolic hypertension and dyslipidemia in young male Zucker diabetic fatty (ZDF) rats, an experimental model of the metabolic syndrome. ZDF rats (n = 30) and lean littermates (ZL) (n = 30) were used. At 6 wk of age, both lean and fatty animals were subdivided into three groups (n = 10): naive (N), vehicle-treated (V), and melatonin-treated (M) (10 mg/kg/day) for 6 wk. Vehicle and melatonin were added to the drinking water. Melatonin reduced mean weight gain (51 ± 2/100 g BW) versus N-ZDF group (58 ± 3, < 0.05) without food intake differences. M-ZDF rats showed an apparent reduction in systolic hypertension that proved not to be statistically significant, and a significant improvement in dyslipidemia, with a reduction in hypertriglyceridemia from 580 ± 40 to 420.6 ± 40.9 mg/dL (< 0.01). Melatonin raised high-density-lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol in ZDF (from 81.6 ± 4.9 to 103.1 ± 4.5 mg/dL, P < 0.01) and ZL rats (from 62.8 ± 4.8 to 73.5 ± 4.8 mg/dL, < 0.05) and significantly reduced low-density-lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in ZDF rats from 5.20 ± 0.4 to 4.14 ± 0.3 mg/dL (P < 0.05) but had no effect on total cholesterol levels. To our knowledge, this is the first evidence of a positive effect of melatonin on overweight and lipid pattern of obese Zucker diabetic rats, supporting the proposition that melatonin administration may ameliorate overweight and lipid metabolism in humans. Because these benefits occurred in youth, before advanced metabolic and vascular complications, melatonin might help to prevent cardiovascular disease associated with obesity and dyslipidemia.

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