Potential protective effects of melatonin on bone marrow of rats exposed to cytotoxic drugs

Comp Biochem Physiol A Mol Integr Physiol. 1998 Feb;119(2):493-501.
Anwar MM, Mahfouz HA, Sayed AS.
Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, Assiut University, Egypt.
Protects bone marrow, lymphoid tissues from damaging effect of cytotoxic drugs.
100 μg melatonin daily intraperitoneally injected.


Myelosuppression is the most serious, dose limiting, toxicity of cytotoxic drugs. Efforts to protect the bone marrow have been only variably successful, and no agreement exists on how to approach this problem. Melatonin, the major hormonal product of the pineal gland, is supposed to have both chemoprotective and myelostimulatory effects. This experimental study was carried out to test these two effects on the bone marrow of rats, daily intraperitoneally injected with 100 microg melatonin. Injection of 10 mg aracytin for 10 days produced a significant (P < 0.01) decrease in red blood cells count (RBCs), total leucocytic count, as well as platelets count. When melatonin was injected along with aracytin, it would significantly increase (P < 0.05) RBC count and (P < 0.01) blood platelet count. Injection of melatonin after aracytin treatment would significantly increase (P < 0.01) RBC, total leucocytic and platelet counts in comparison with rats treated with aracytin only. The effects of melatonin were more clear in rats treated with it after aracytin injection than those treated with melatonin and aracytin at the same time. Furthermore, it was found that aracytin produced a significant (P < 0.01) decrease in serum total proteins, albumin, and significantly increased the (P < 0.01) albumin/globulin ratio. Melatonin injection would significantly increase (P < 0.01) total protein, globulin, and significantly decrease (P < 0.01) the albumin/glubulin ratio when injected either with aracytin or after aracytin treatment. These results indicate that melatonin protects bone marrow, lymphoid tissues from damaging effect of cytotoxic drugs, as well as stimulating the suppressed bone marrow.