Melatonin, metals, and gene expression: Implications in aging and neurodegenerative disorders

Debomoy K. Lahiri, Demao Chen, Preeti Lahiri, Jack T. Rogers, Nigel H. Greig, Stephen Bondy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Scopus citations


Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland, mostly in the dark period of the light/dark cycle, with corresponding fluctuations reflected in the plasma melatonin levels. This hormone plays a critical role in the regulation of various neural and endocrine processes that are synchronized with daily change in photoperiod. Abnormal melatonin levels are associated with metabolic disturbances and other disorders. Melatonin potentially plays an important role in aging, prolongation of life span, and health in the aged individual. It may exert a beneficial action on neurodegenerative conditions in those with debilitating diseases. It interacts with metals and, in some cases, neutralizes their toxic effects. Levels of melatonin decrease with aging in mice. Its dietary supplementation has recently been shown to result in a significant rise in levels of endogenous melatonin in serum as well as all other tissue samples tested. The effects of dietary melatonin have been studied in the brain of mice with regard to nitric oxide synthase, synaptic proteins, and amyloid β peptides (Aβ), which are involved in amyloid deposition and plaque formation in Alzheimer's disease (AD). Melatonin supplementation has no significant effect on cerebral cortical levels of nitric oxide synthase or synaptic proteins, such as synaptophysin and SNAP-25. Notably, however, elevated brain melatonin levels resulted in a significant reduction in levels of toxic cortical Aβ of both 40- and 42-aminoacid forms. Taken together, these results suggest that dietary melatonin supplementation may slow the neurodegenerative changes associated with brain aging and that the depletion of melatonin in the brain of aging mice may, in part, account for this adverse change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)216-230
Number of pages15
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
StatePublished - 2004


  • Aging
  • Amyloid
  • Brain
  • Diet
  • Melatonin
  • Metals
  • Mouse
  • mRNA
  • Synaptic protein

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

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