Objective: Oxidative stress (OS) plays a key role in perinatal brain damage. The aim of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of melatonin as a neuroprotective drug by investigating the influence of melatonin on OS and inflammation biomarkers in an animal model of cerebral hypoxia-ischemia.
Methods: Five minutes after hypoxic-ischemic (HI) injury melatonin was administered to 28 rats (HI-Mel group). At the same time, 28 hypoxic-ischemic rats were vehicle-treated (V-HI group). Five rats were used as sham operated controls (CTL). OS biomarkers: isoprostanes (IsoPs), neuroprostanes (NPs) and neurofurans (NFs), and microglial activation markers (glial fibrillary acidic protein [GFAP] and monoclonal antirat CD68 [ED1]) were measured in the cerebral cortex of the two lobes.
Results: A significant increase of IsoPs on the left lobe was observed in V-HI after 1 hour (h) from HI injury (p < 0.001); a significant increase of NPs on both side (p < 0.05) and a significant increase of NFs on the left (p < 0.05) were also observed in V-HI after 24 h. A significant increase of IsoPs on the left (p < 0.05) and of NPs on both lobes (p < 0.05) were observed in HI-Mel after 48 h. The ED1 and GFAP expression was lower in the HI-Mel brain tissue.
Conclusions: Melatonin reduces OS and inflammatory cells recruitment and glial cells activation in cerebral cortex after neonatal HI damage. These results lay the groundwork for future clinical studies in infants.