Melatonin and oestrogen treatments were able to improve neuroinflammation and apoptotic processes in dentate gyrus of old ovariectomized female rats

Age (Dordr). 2014;36(5):9707. doi: 10.1007/s11357-014-9707-3. Epub 2014 Aug 19.


The aim of this study was to determine the outcomes of oestrogen and melatonin treatments following long-term ovarian hormone depletion on neuroinflammation and apoptotic processes in dentate gyrus of hippocampi. Forty-six female Wistar rats of 22 months of age were used. Twelve of them remained intact, and the other 34 were ovariectomized at 12 months of age. Ovariectomized animals were divided into three groups and treated for 10 weeks with oestrogens, melatonin or saline. All rats were killed by decapitation at 24 months of age, and dentate gyri were collected. A group of 2 month-old intact female rats was used as young control. The levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines and heat shock protein 70 (HSP 70) were analysed by ELISA. The expressions of TNFα, IL1β, GFAP, nNOS, iNOS, HO-1, NFκB, Bax, Bad, AIF, Bcl2 and SIRT1 genes were detected by real-time (RT)-PCR. Western blots were used to measure the protein expression of NFκB p65, NFκB p50/105, IκBα, IκBβ, p38 MAPK, MAP-2 and synapsin I. We have assessed the ability of 17β-oestradiol and melatonin administration to downregulate markers of neuroinflammation in the dentate gyrus of ovariectomized female rats. Results indicated that 17β-oestradiol and melatonin treatments were able to significantly decrease expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines, iNOS and HO-1 in the hippocampus when compared to non-treated animals. A similar age- and long-term ovarian hormone depletion- related increase in GFAP was also attenuated after both melatonin and oestradiol treatments. In a similar way to oestradiol, melatonin decreased the activation of p38 MAPK and NFκB pathways. The treatments enhanced the levels of synaptic molecules synapsin I and MAP-2 and have been shown to modulate the pro-antiapoptotic ratio favouring the second and to increase SIRT1 expression. These findings support the potential therapeutic role of melatonin and oestradiol as protective anti-inflammatory agents for the central nervous system during menopause.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Apoptosis / genetics
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cytokines / genetics
  • Cytokines / metabolism*
  • Dentate Gyrus / drug effects
  • Dentate Gyrus / pathology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Estrogens / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins / genetics
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins / metabolism*
  • Inflammation / genetics
  • Inflammation / metabolism*
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Melatonin / pharmacology*
  • Ovariectomy
  • RNA / genetics
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • Cytokines
  • Estrogens
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins
  • RNA
  • Melatonin