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Purpose: To evaluate, using biochemical analysis, the radioprotective effect of melatonin against radiotherapy-induced small intestinal damage.
Methods: In this study, 20 male Wistar rats were randomly divided to four groups (5 rats in each); group 1 (control, without radiation or melatonin treatment), group 2 (melatonin treated), group 3 (radiation only) and group 4 (melatonin + radiation). The abdominal regions of animals in groups 3 and 4 were exposed to 8 Gy single radiation dose from a cobalt-60 gamma ray source. Thirty minutes before irradiation, groups 2 and 4 rats were administered 100 mg/kg of melatonin via intraperitoneal route. All rats were sacrificed 5 days after irradiation. Afterwards, their small intestinal tissues were carefully removed and kept for biochemical analysis using the following parameters: superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT) and malondialdehyde (MDA).
Results: Biochemical evaluations of ratsâ€™ intestinal tissues indicated significantly higher MDA levels in the radiation group compared to the radiation + melatonin group (p < 0.0006). In addition, both CAT and SOD levels were significantly decreased in the radiation group compared to the radiation + melatonin group (p < 0.05). In all biochemical assessments, we observed no significant difference between the control group and the radiation + melatonin group (p > 0.05). Furthermore, there were no side effects from melatonin administration.
Conclusion: Melatonin administration prior to irradiation reduced MDA levels as well as increased both CAT and SOD levels. Therefore, melatonin can protect against radiotherapy-induced small intestinal damage.