Date: 24 May 2011

Neuroprotection by Melatonin after Germinal Matrix Hemorrhage in Neonatal Rats

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Abstract

Background: Germinal matrix hemorrhage (GMH) is a devastating neurological disorder of very low birth weight premature infants that leads to post-hemorrhagic hydrocephalus, cerebral palsy, and mental retardation. Melatonin is a potent antioxidant known to reverse free-radical mediated injury in the brain. This study investigated the effect of melatonin treatment after GMH injury.

Methods: Clostridial collagenase was infused into the right germinal matrix region of neonatal rats with stereotaxic technique. Cognitive function, sensorimotor ability, cerebral, cardiac and splenic growths were measured in juvenile animals.

Results: Systemic melatonin treatment ameliorated cognitive and sensorimotor dysfunction at the juvenile developmental stage. This hormone also normalized brain atrophy, splenomegaly, and cardiac hypertrophy consequences at 1 month after injury.

Conclusion: This study supports the role of free radicals in acute neonatal hemorrhagic brain injury. Melatonin is an effective antioxidant that can protect the infant’s brain from the post-hemorrhagic consequences of mental retardation and cerebral palsy. Further mechanistic studies are warranted to determine the mechanisms behind these neuroprotective effects.