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We explored anti-inflammatory potential of melatonin against the lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced inflammation in vivo and in vitro. RAW 264.7 and BV2 cells were stimulated by LPS, followed by the treatment with melatonin or vehicle at various time intervals. In a mouse model of meningitis induced by LPS, melatonin (5 mg/kg) or vehicle was intravenously injected at 30 min postinsult. The activity of matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2) and metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) was determined by gelatin zymography. Nuclear factor-kappa B (NFκB) translocation and binding activity were determined by immunocytochemistry and electrophoretic mobility shift assay (EMSA). Our results showed that either pretreatment or cotreatment with melatonin at 50–500 μm effectively inhibited the LPS-induced proMMP-9 activation in the RAW 264.7 and BV2 cells, respectively (P < 0.05). This melatonin-induced proMMP-9 inhibition remained effective when treatment was delayed up to 2 and 6 hr postinsult for RAW 264.7 and BV2 cells, respectively (P < 0.05 for both groups). Additionally, melatonin significantly attenuated the rises of circulatory and cerebral MMP-9 activity, respectively (P < 0.05) and reduced the loss of body weight (P < 0.05) in mice with meningitis. Moreover, melatonin (50 μm) effectively inhibited nuclear factor-kappa B (NFκB) translocation and binding activity in the LPS-treated RAW 264.7 and BV2 cells, respectively (P < 0.05). These results demonstrate direct inhibitory actions of melatonin against postinflammatory NFκB translocation and MMP-9 activation and highlight its ability to inhibit systemic and cerebral MMP-9 activation following brain inflammation.