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Medical Science Monitor Basic Research


eISSN: 1643-3750

Melatonin Promotes Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) Expression and Anti-Apoptotic Effects in Neonatal Hemolytic Hyperbilirubinemia via a Phospholipase (PLC)-Mediated Mechanism

Yong Luo, Mei Peng, Hong Wei

Department of Pediatrics, Yongchuan Hospital of Chongqing Medical University, Chongqing, China (mainland)

Med Sci Monit 2017; 23:5951-5959

DOI: 10.12659/MSM.907592

Available online:

Published: 2017-12-16


BACKGROUND: Melatonin therapy shows positive effects on neuroprotective factor brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) expression and neuronal apoptosis in neonatal hemolytic hyperbilirubinemia. We hypothesized that melatonin promotes BDNF expression and anti-apoptotic effects in neonatal hemolytic hyperbilirubinemia through a phospholipase (PLC)-mediated mechanism.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: A phenylhydrazine hydrochloride (PHZ)-induced neonatal hemolytic hyperbilirubinemia model was constructed in neonatal rats. Four experimental groups – a control group (n=30), a PHZ group (n=30), a PHZ + melatonin group (n=30), and a PHZ + melatonin+U73122 (a PLC inhibitor) group (n=30) – were constructed. Trunk blood was assayed for serum hemoglobin, hematocrit, total and direct bilirubin, BDNF, S100B, and tau protein levels. Brain tissue levels of neuronal apoptosis, BDNF expression, PLC activity, IP3 content, phospho- and total Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase type IV (CaMKIV) expression, and phospho- and total cAMP response element binding protein (CREB) expression were also assayed.
RESULTS: PHZ-induced hemolytic hyperbilirubinemia was validated by significantly decreased serum hemoglobin and hematocrit as well as significantly increased total and direct serum bilirubin (p<0.05). Neonatal bilirubin-induced neurotoxicity was validated by significantly decreased serum BDNF, brain BDNF, and serum S100B, along with significantly increased serum tau protein (p<0.05). PHZ-induced hemolytic hyperbilirubinemia significantly decreased serum BDNF, brain BDNF, and PLC/IP3/Ca2+ pathway activation while increasing neuronal apoptosis levels (p<0.05), all of which were partially rescued by melatonin therapy (p<0.05). Pre-treatment with the PLC inhibitor U73122 largely abolished the positive effects of melatonin on PLC/IP3/Ca2+ pathway activation, downstream BDNF levels, and neuronal apoptosis (p<0.05).
CONCLUSIONS: Promotion of BDNF expression and anti-apoptotic effects in neonatal hemolytic hyperbilirubinemia by melatonin largely operates via a PLC-mediated mechanism.

Keywords: Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor, Hyperbilirubinemia, Neonatal, Melatonin, Receptor, trkB