Melatonin prevents age-related mitochondrial dysfunction in rat brain via cardiolipin protection

Giuseppe Petrosillo, Patrizia Fattoretti, Mariagiuseppa Matera, Francesca M. Ruggiero, Carlo Bertoni-Freddari, Giuseppe Paradies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are considered a key factor in brain aging process. Complex I of the mitochondrial respiration chain is an important site of ROS production and hence a potential contributor to brain functional changes with aging. Appropriate antioxidant strategies could be particularly useful to limit this ROS production and associated mitochondrial dysfunction. Melatonin has been shown to possess antioxidant properties and to reduce oxidant events in brain aging. The mechanism underlying this protective effect of melatonin is not well established. In the present study, we examined the effects of long-term treatment of aged rats with melatonin on various parameters related to mitochondrial bioenergetics in brain tissue. After isolation of mitochondria from control, aged, and melatonin-treated young and aged rats, various bioenergetic parameters were evaluated such as complex I activity, rates of state 3 respiration, mitochondrial hydrogen peroxide (H2O 2) production, and membrane potential. The mitochondrial content of normal and oxidized cardiolipin was also evaluated. We found that all these mitochondrial parameters were significantly altered with aging, and that melatonin treatment completely prevented these age-related alterations. These effects appear to be due, at least in part, to melatonin's ability to preserve the content and structural integrity of cardiolipin molecules, which play a pivotal role in mitochondrial bioenergetics. The melatonin's ability to prevent complex I dysfunction and cardiolipin peroxidation was also demonstrated by in vitro experiments on brain mitochondria treated with tert-butyl hydroperoxide. In summary, this study documents a decline of mitochondrial bioenergetic functions in brain with aging and the beneficial effect of melatonin.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)935-943
Number of pages9
JournalRejuvenation Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ageing
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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