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Melatonin Alters Age-Related Changes in Transcription Factors and Kinase Activation


Male mice were fed 40 ppm melatonin for 2 months prior to sacrifice at age 26 months, and compared with both 26 and 4 month-old untreated controls. The nuclear translocation of NF-κB increased with age in both brain and spleen and this was reversed by melatonin only in brain. Another transcription factor, AP-1 was increased with age in the spleen and not in brain and this could be blocked by melatonin treatment. The fraction of the active relative to the inactive form of several enabling kinases was compared. The proportion of activated ERK was elevated with age in brain and spleen but this change was unresponsive to melatonin. A similar age-related increase in glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) was also refractory to melatonin treatment. The cerebral melatonin M1 receptor decreased with age in brain but increased in spleen. The potentially beneficial nature of melatonin for the preservation of brain function with aging was suggested by the finding that an age-related decline in cortical synaptophysin levels was prevented by dietary melatonin.

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