Antioxidative protection in a high-melatonin organism: the dinoflagellate Gonyaulax polyedra is rescued from lethal oxidative stress by strongly elevated, but physiologically possible concentrations of melatonin

J Pineal Res. 1997 Nov;23(4):182-90. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-079x.1997.tb00353.x.


Lethal oxidative stress was investigated in the dinoflagellate Gonyaulax polyedra by measuring the dying-peak of bioluminescence during circadian phases of low physiological light emission, low bioluminescence capacity, and low sensitivity to stimulatory agents. Measurements were carried out in constant darkness after transfer of cells from light at CT 6 (circadian time, 0600 hr). H2O2 (0.08 mM), when administered 1 hr after transfer of cells, led to a multifold, long-lasting enhancement of light emission, which is typical for lethal cell damage. At the circadian phases of investigation, melatonin did not substantially stimulate bioluminescence up to concentrations of 0.5 mM. At this concentration, addition of melatonin prevented the dying-peak and reduced bioluminescence to almost basal values. The high concentration of melatonin applied is not unphysiological in Gonyaulax, because the indoleamine can increase to levels of several millimolar, e.g., in response to temperature signals. These protective effects of melatonin seem to be caused mainly by the direct action of melatonin as an antioxidant, because the major enzymes of antioxidative protection were not stimulated by melatonin, although some of them responded to H2O2. The activities of neither superoxide dismutase, hemoperoxidase/catalase, glutathione peroxidase, nor haloperoxidase were enhanced under the influence of melatonin; glutathione S-transferase activity increased only slightly.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Catalase / metabolism
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Dinoflagellida / physiology*
  • Free Radical Scavengers
  • Glutathione Peroxidase / metabolism
  • Glutathione Transferase / metabolism
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / pharmacology
  • Luminescent Measurements
  • Melatonin / pharmacology*
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects*
  • Peroxidases / metabolism
  • Superoxide Dismutase / metabolism


  • Antioxidants
  • Free Radical Scavengers
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Peroxidases
  • Catalase
  • Glutathione Peroxidase
  • Superoxide Dismutase
  • Glutathione Transferase
  • Melatonin