Melatonin prevents chemical-induced Haemopoietic cell death

Sara Salucci, Sabrina Burattini, Michela Battistelli, Valentina Baldassarri, Davide Curzi, Aurelio Valmori, Elisabetta Falcieri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Melatonin (MEL), a methoxyindole synthesized by the pineal gland, is a powerful antioxidant in tissues as well as within cells, with a fundamental role in ameliorating homeostasis in a number of specific pathologies. It acts both as a direct radical scavenger and by stimulating production/activity of intracellular antioxidant enzymes. In this work, some chemical triggers, with different mechanisms of action, have been chosen to induce cell death in U937 hematopoietic cell line. Cells were pre-treated with 100 μM MEL and then exposed to hydrogen peroxide or staurosporine. Morphological analyses, TUNEL reaction and Orange/PI double staining have been used to recognize ultrastructural apoptotic patterns and to evaluate DNA behavior. Chemical damage and potential MEL anti-apoptotic effects were quantified by means of Tali® Image-Based Cytometer, able to monitor cell viability and apoptotic events. After trigger exposure, chromatin condensation, micronuclei formation and DNA fragmentation have been observed, all suggesting apoptotic cell death. These events underwent a statistically significant decrease in samples pre-treated with MEL. After caspase inhibition and subsequent assessment of cell viability, we demonstrated that apoptosis occurs, at least in part, through the mitochondrial pathway and that MEL interacts at this level to rescue U937 cells from death.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6625-6640
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 17 2014


  • Apoptosis
  • Chemical triggers
  • Melatonin
  • U937

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Spectroscopy
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Medicine(all)


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