Melatonin reduces excitotoxic blood-brain barrier breakdown in neonatal rats. - GreenMedInfo Summary
Melatonin reduces excitotoxic blood-brain barrier breakdown in neonatal rats.
Neuroscience. 2015 Nov 2. Epub 2015 Nov 2. PMID: 26542996
The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is a complex structure that protects the central nervous system from peripheral insults. Understanding the molecular basis of BBB function and dysfunction holds significant potential for future strategies to prevent and treat neurological damage. The aim of our study was (1) to investigate BBB alterations following excitotoxicity and (2) to test the protective properties of melatonin. Ibotenate, a glutamate analog, was injected intracerebrally in postnatal day 5 (P5) rat pups to mimic excitotoxic injury. Animals were than randomly divided into two groups, one receiving intraperitoneal (i.p.) melatonin injections (5mg/kg), and the other phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) injections. Pups were sacrificed 2, 4 and 18h after ibotenate injection. We determined lesion size at 5days by histology, the location and organization of tight junction (TJ) proteins by immunohistochemical studies, and BBB leakage by dextran extravasation. Expression levels of BBB genes (TJs, efflux transporters and detoxification enzymes) were determined in the cortex and choroid plexus by quantitative PCR. Dextran extravasation was seen 2h after the insult, suggesting a rapid BBB breakdown that was resolved by 4h. Extravasation was significantly reduced in melatonin-treated pups. Gene expression and immunohistochemical assays showed dynamic BBB modifications during the first 4h, partially prevented by melatonin. Lesion-size measurements confirmed white matter neuroprotection by melatonin. Our study is the first to evaluate BBB structure and function at a very early time point following excitotoxicity in neonates. Melatonin neuroprotects by preventing TJ modifications and BBB disruption at this early phase, before its previously demonstrated anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and axonal regrowth-promoting effects.