The in vivo and in vitro effects of melatonin on enzyme activity of glutathione reductase (Glutathione: NADP+ oxidoreductase, EC 126.96.36.199; GR) were investigated in this study. Glutathione reductase was purified from human erythrocytes 5.823-fold with a yield of 24% by ammonium sulfate fractionation, affinity chromatography on 2′,5′-ADP Sepharose 4B and gel filtration chromatography on Sephadex G-200. Enzyme activity was determined by the Calberg and Mannervik method using a spectrophotometer at 340 nm.
For in vitro experiments, the enzyme activity increased at 0.02 mM and decreased at 0.08 mM melatonin concentration and reached a plateau above 0.08 mM. Melatonin was administered 10 mg/kg intraperitoneally (ip) and had a stimulatory effect on the enzyme. In vivo studies were performed for melatonin in Sprague–Dawley rats and time-dependent effects were demonstrated. Glutathione reductase activity in erythrocytes was increased more by melatonin at 1 and 3 h. These results indicate that pharmacological levels of melatonin increased enzyme activity in erythrocytes. They also indicate that melatonin may be pharmacologically useful in patients with a deficiency of the enzyme in red blood cells causing hemolytic anemia.