OBJECTIVE: To examine the in vitro effect of melatonin on rat mitochondrial liver respiration.
METHODS: Oxygen consumption by liver mitochondria was measured polarographically in the presence of one of the following Krebs' cycle substrates: Lsuccinate, DL-3- beta-hydroxybutyrate or L-malate. Respiratory velocities at rest (state 4) and during rapid respiration in the presence of substrate and adenosine diphosphate (state 3) were measured in the presence of 10 (-9)-10(-3) M concentrations of melatonin.
RESULTS: In vitro melatonin (10(-7)-10(-3) M) reduced state 3 mitochondrial respiration. Basal, state 4 respiration was not affected by melatonin. Consequently, control respiratory index (i.e., the ratio of state 3 to state 4 respiration) was inhibited by melatonin with a threshold at 10(-7) M concentration.
CONCLUSION: The ability of melatonin to curtail acutely the stimulation of oxygen consumption in liver mitochondria may protect the mitochondria from excessive oxidative damage.