Changes in brain amino acids and nitric oxide after melatonin administration in rats with pentylenetetrazole-induced seizures

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We examined the effect of melatonin on brain levels of amino acids and nitric oxide (NO) after pentylenetetrazole (PTZ)-induced seizures in rats. Animals were treated with melatonin (10–160 mg/kg, i.p.) 30 min before PTZ administration (100 mg/kg, s.c.), and were killed 3 hr later. At the dose of 80 mg/kg, melatonin significantly increased the latency (5.7–12.7 min) and decreased the duration (31.2–18.4 s) of the first seizure, reducing PTZ induced mortality from 87.5 to 25%. After kill, brains were removed and neurotransmitters and nitrite levels measured in prefrontal cortex (PF), parieto-temporal cortex (PF), striatum (ST), hippocampus (HP) and brain stem (BS) by high performance liquid chromatography. PTZ treatment increased glutamine levels in all brain areas studied, without changes in glutamate, gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA) and glycine. Aspartate and taurine increased in PF and PT and in HS and PT, respectively. Melatonin administration displayed a dose-dependent effect. At doses of 10–40 mg/kg, melatonin counteracted the PTZ-induced glutamine increase and reduced both glutamate and asparatate levels in the studied areas, with minor changes in GABA and glycine content. At doses of 80 and 160 mg/kg, the levels of glutamine, and glutamate, and to a lesser extent aspartate increased, whereas serine levels did not change. These two doses of melatonin also increased taurine, GABA and glycine in most brain areas studied. Treatment with melatonin (40–160 mg/kg) significantly decreased nitrite content in PT cortex, ST and BS areas of epileptic rats, without changes in the other brain regions. The results suggest that the anticonvulsant property of melatonin involves a modulation of both brain amino acids and NO production.

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