Melatonin protects liver against ischemia and reperfusion injury through inhibition of toll-like receptor signaling pathway


Address reprint requests to Sun-Mee Lee, Ph.D., School of Pharmacy, Sungkyunkwan University, 300 Cheoncheon-Dong, Jangan-Gu, Suwon, Gyeonggi-Do 440-746, Korea.


Abstract:  This study investigated the immunomodulating effect of melatonin on toll-like receptor (TLR)-stimulated signal transduction. Rats were subjected to 60 min of ischemia followed by 1 or 5 hr of reperfusion. Melatonin (10 mg/kg) or the vehicle was administered intraperitoneally 15 min prior to ischemia and immediately before reperfusion. Melatonin treatment significantly reduced the level of serum alanine aminotransferase activity. Increased levels of TLR3 and TLR4 protein expression induced by ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) were attenuated by melatonin. Serum level of high-mobility group box 1 (HMGB1), a potent alarmin of the TLR system, increased significantly in the I/R group, and melatonin inhibited this release. Melatonin suppressed the increase in myeloid differentiation factor 88 (MyD88) protein expression, extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) and c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) phosphorylation and nuclear translocation of nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) and phosphorylated c-Jun, a component of activator protein 1. The increased level of toll-receptor-associated activator of interferon (TRIF) expression, phosphorylation of interferon (IFN) regulatory factor 3 (IRF3) and serum IFN-β was attenuated by melatonin. Melatonin attenuated the levels of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), interleukin (IL)-6 and inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) protein and mRNA expression, while the level of heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) was augmented. Our results suggest that melatonin ameliorates I/R-induced liver damage by modulation of TLR-mediated inflammatory responses.