Aim: To determine the effect of melatonin pre- and post-treatment on the severity of L-arginine (L-Arg) -induced experimental pancreatitis in rats. Methods: Male Wistar rats (25) were divided into five groups. Tho se in group A received two injections of 3.2 g/kg body weight L-Arg i.p. at an interval of 1 h. In group MA, the rats were treated with 50 mg/kg body weight melatonin i.p. 30 min prior to L-Arg administration. In group AM, the rats received the same dose of melatonin 1 h after L-Arg was given. In group M, a single dose of melatonin was administered as described previously. In group C the control animals received physiological saline injections i.p. All rats were exsanguinated 24 h after the second L-Arg injection. Results: L-Arg administration caused severe necrotizing pancreatitis confirmed by the significant elevations in the serum amylase level, the pancreatic weight/body weight ratio (pw/bw), the pancreatic IL-6 content and the myeloperoxidase activity, relative to the control values. Elevation of the serum amylase level was significantly reduced in rats given melatonin following L-Arg compared to rats injected with L-Arg only. The activities of the pancreatic antioxidant enzymes (Cu/ Zn-superoxide dismutase (Cu/Zn-SOD) and catalase (CAT)) were significantly increased 24 h after pancreatitis induction. Melatonin given in advance of L-Arg significantly reduced the pancreatic CAT activity relative to that in the rats treated with L-Arg alone. In the liver, L-Arg significantly increased the lipid peroxidation level, and the glutathione peroxidase and Cu/Zn-SOD activities, whereas the Mn-SOD activity was reduced as compared to the control rats. Melatonin pre-treatment prevented these changes. Conclusion: Melatonin is an anti oxidant that is able to counteract some of the L-Arg-induced changes during acute pancreatitis, and may therefore be helpful in the supportive therapy of patients with acute necrotizing pancreatitis.
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