Prevention of doxorubicin-induced cardiotoxicity by melatonin

Mol Cell Biochem. 2006 Jan;282(1-2):31-7. doi: 10.1007/s11010-006-1153-9.


Anthracyclines, such as doxorubicin and daunorubicin, are highly effective anticancer agents. Cardiotoxicity made by these agents develops as a complication of the cancer chemotherapy. Melatonin, the chief secretory product of the pineal gland, was recently found to be a free radical scavenger and antioxidant. We decided to evaluate the tissue-protective effect of melatonin against myocardial toxic effects of doxorubicin in six groups of rats. Rats were given doxorubicin (Dx) (45 mg/kg dose) and melatonin (MEL) (10 mg/kg), first doxorubicin and then melatonin (DM), first melatonin and then doxorubicin (MD). The degree of cardiac muscle cell alterations were examined either histologically (mean total score technique) or biochemically. In doxorubicin-treated group, malondialdehyde (MDA) levels of the heart tissue were significantly increased, glutathione (GSH) levels were decreased compared to the control rats. In the group in which first doxorubicin and then melatonin was given, MDA levels were significantly decreased and glutathione (GSH) levels were increased compared to the doxorubicin-treated group. During ultrastructural analysis, in doxorubicin-treated group, cellular edema, mitochondrial deformation, decreased glycogen stores, and disordered myofibrillary structure were observed. In contrast, in first doxorubicin and then melatonin-treated group, normal cellular structure was observed. But, first melatonin and then doxorubicin-treated group was not significantly preserved from the doxorubicin-induced changes. By preventing lipid peroxidation and myocardial lesions, melatonin may be highly effective in protecting against doxorubicin-induced cardiotoxicity.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic / administration & dosage
  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic / toxicity*
  • Calcium / blood
  • Creatine Kinase, MB Form / blood
  • Doxorubicin / administration & dosage
  • Doxorubicin / toxicity*
  • Glutathione / metabolism
  • Male
  • Malondialdehyde / metabolism
  • Melatonin / administration & dosage
  • Melatonin / pharmacology*
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Mitochondria / drug effects*
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Mitochondria / ultrastructure
  • Mitochondrial Swelling
  • Myocardium / metabolism
  • Myocardium / pathology*
  • Myocardium / ultrastructure
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / drug effects*
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / metabolism
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / ultrastructure
  • Myofibrils / drug effects
  • Myofibrils / metabolism
  • Myofibrils / ultrastructure
  • Potassium / blood
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Sodium / blood


  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic
  • Malondialdehyde
  • Doxorubicin
  • Sodium
  • Creatine Kinase, MB Form
  • Glutathione
  • Melatonin
  • Potassium
  • Calcium