Document Type : Research Article
. Department of Medical Physics, Faculty of Medicine, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
. Department of Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, Faculty of Pharmacy, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
. Department of Medical Physics, Faculty of Medicine, Fassa University of Medical Sciences, Fassa, Iran
4. Faculty of Medicine, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
It has been suggested that the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) gene expression plays an important role in radiation-induced injury to the spinal cord. This study assesses the radioprotective effects of N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine (melatonin) through its modulation of VEGF expression after localized irradiation of the cervical spinal cord. Materials and Methods: In this experimental study, we divided 192 male rats into four groups: 1. control (n=48); 2. rats that received an intraperitoneal (IP) injection of melatonin (n=48); 3. rats that received an IP injection of melatonin 30 minutes prior to cervical spinal cord gamma irradiation [dose: 22 Gy; (n=48)]; and 4. rats that received an IP injection of vehicle prior to spinal cord irradiation (n=48). The changes in VEGF expression were assessed using real-time RT-PCR and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays. Samples for light microscopy were stained with hematoxylin and eosin (H&E). The differences among the groups were analyzed using the analysis of variance (ANOVA) test followed by Tukey’s multiple comparisons test. Results: Up-regulation of VEGF expression was observed from 8 to 22 weeks after irradiation (p < 0.05). Paralysis and other radiation-induced myelopathy manifestations developed within 22 weeks after irradiation. VEGF expression in the melatonin pre-treatment group significantly down-regulated in the 20th and 22nd weeks after irradiation compared to the radiation-only group. Conclusion: The results support the hypothesis that modulation of VEGF expression by melatonin administration may increase the survival rate of irradiated animals.