Systemic combined melatonin-mitochondria treatment improves acute respiratory distress syndrome in the rat

J Pineal Res. 2015 Mar;58(2):137-50. doi: 10.1111/jpi.12199. Epub 2014 Dec 27.


Despite high in-hospital mortality associated with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), there is no effective therapeutic strategy. We tested the hypothesis that combined melatonin-mitochondria treatment ameliorates 100% oxygen-induced ARDS in rats. Adult male Sprague-Dawley rats (n = 40) were equally categorized into normal controls, ARDS, ARDS-melatonin, ARDS with intravenous liver-derived mitochondria (1500 μg per rat 6 hr after ARDS induction), and ARDS receiving combined melatonin-mitochondria. The results showed that 22 hr after ARDS induction, oxygen saturation (saO2 ) was lowest in the ARDS group and highest in normal controls, significantly lower in ARDS-melatonin and ARDS-mitochondria than in combined melatonin-mitochondria group, and significantly lower in ARDS-mitochondria than in ARDS-melatonin group. Conversely, right ventricular systolic blood pressure and lung weight showed an opposite pattern compared with saO2 among all groups (all P < 0.001). Histological integrity of alveolar sacs showed a pattern identical to saO2 , whereas lung crowding score exhibited an opposite pattern (all P < 0.001). Albumin level and inflammatory cells (MPO+, CD40+, CD11b/c+) from bronchoalveolar lavage fluid showed a pattern opposite to saO2 (all P < 0.001). Protein expression of indices of inflammation (MMP-9, TNF-α, NF-κB), oxidative stress (oxidized protein, NO-1, NOX-2, NOX-4), apoptosis (mitochondrial Bax, cleaved caspase-3, and PARP), fibrosis (Smad3, TGF-β), mitochondrial damage (cytochrome C), and DNA damage (γ-H2AX+) exhibited an opposite pattern compared to saO2 in all groups, whereas protein (HO-1, NQO-1, GR, GPx) and cellular (HO-1+) expressions of antioxidants exhibited a progressively increased pattern from normal controls to ARDS combined melatonin-mitochondria group (all P < 0.001). In conclusion, combined melatonin-mitochondrial was superior to either treatment alone in attenuating ARDS in this rat model.

Keywords: 100% oxygen inhalation; acute respiratory distress syndrome; inflammation; melatonin; mitochondria; oxidative stress.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • Male
  • Melatonin / therapeutic use*
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Mitochondria / ultrastructure
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / drug therapy*


  • Melatonin