Role of exogenous melatonin in reducing the cardiotoxic effect of daunorubicin and doxorubicin in the rat

Exp Toxicol Pathol. 2002 Feb;53(6):433-9. doi: 10.1078/0940-2993-00217.


The aim of the studies was to examine the cardioprotective effect of melatonin during the anthracycline administration (daunorubicin, doxorubicin) in rats. Application of these drugs in chemotherapy is limited because of their cardiotoxicity. Rats of Buffalo strain were divided into groups according to the cytostatic drug used, its dose and sequence of administration (single intravenous [i.v.] dose of 10 mg/kg b.w., i.e., acute intoxication; 3 mg/kg b.w. weekly for 3 weeks, subchronic intoxication). Melatonin was administered subcutaneously before and after every injection of a cytostatic drug at a dose of 10 mg/kg b.w. The degree of cardiac muscle cell alterations was examined either histologically (Mean Total Score technique and the Billingham scale), or biochemically (levels of lipid peroxidation markers, malonyldialdehyde, and 4-hydroxyalkenals). Statistically significant decrease in cardiac muscle cell damage was noted with an aid of the Billingham scale after melatonin administration in acutely intoxicated doxorubicin-treated rats (p < 0.001). The similar phenomenon was observed using the Mean Total Score technique in case of acute daunorubicin or doxorubicin (p < 0.01 and p < 0.001, respectively) intoxications. A significant reduction in cardiac muscle cell lesions was detected either by the Billingham scale or by the Mean Total Score technique during subchronic intoxication with either of the anthracyclines when melatonin was given. Biochemical assays revealed significant decreases in malonyldialdehyde and 4-hydroxyalkenals levels following application of melatonin during either acute doxorubicin (p < 0.05) or subchronic daunorubicin (p < 0.01) intoxication. In summary, melatonin was found to exert a protective effect on the cardiac muscle cells, which was particularly evident after acute doxorubicin or subchronic daunorubicin intoxication, using either histological or biochemical methods.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic / toxicity*
  • Antioxidants / administration & dosage
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Daunorubicin / administration & dosage
  • Daunorubicin / toxicity*
  • Doxorubicin / administration & dosage
  • Doxorubicin / toxicity*
  • Drug Interactions
  • Heart Diseases / chemically induced
  • Heart Diseases / pathology
  • Heart Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Heart Ventricles / drug effects
  • Heart Ventricles / metabolism
  • Heart Ventricles / pathology
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Injections, Subcutaneous
  • Lipid Peroxidation / drug effects
  • Male
  • Melatonin / administration & dosage
  • Melatonin / pharmacology*
  • Myocardium / metabolism
  • Myocardium / pathology
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred BUF


  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic
  • Antioxidants
  • Doxorubicin
  • Melatonin
  • Daunorubicin