Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) affects the retinal macula and results in loss of vision, and AMD is the primary cause of blindness and severe visual impairment among elderly people worldwide. AMD is characterized by the accumulation of drusen in the Bruch's membrane and dysfunction of retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells and photoreceptors. The pathogenesis of AMD remains unclear, and no effective treatment exists. Accumulating evidence indicates that oxidative stress plays a critical role in RPE cell degeneration and AMD. Melatonin is an antioxidant that scavenges free radicals, and it has anti-inflammatory, antitumor, and antiangiogenic effects. This study investigated the antioxidative, antiapoptotic, and autophagic effects of melatonin on oxidative damage to RPE cells. We used hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) to stimulate reactive oxygen species production to cause cell apoptosis in ARPE-19 cell lines. Our findings revealed that treatment with melatonin significantly inhibited H2O2-induced RPE cell damage, decreased the apoptotic rate, increased the mitochondrial membrane potential, and increased the autophagy effect. Furthermore, melatonin reduced the Bax/Bcl-2 ratio and the expression levels of the apoptosis-Associated proteins cytochrome c and caspase 7. Additionally, melatonin upregulated the expression of the autophagy-related proteins LC3-II and Beclin-1 and downregulated the expression of p62. Thus, melatonin's effects on autophagy and apoptosis can protect against H2O2-induced oxidative damage in human RPE cells. Melatonin may have multiple protective effects on human RPE cells against H2O2-induced oxidative damage.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9015765
JournalOxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Ageing
  • Cell Biology


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