Background: The free radical theory of aging suggests the oxygen-derived species as the causative agents and free radical scavengers as the defense systems in aging process. The exact role of the free radical scavenging effects of melatonin in aging remains to be clarified. Objective: In this experimental study, we investigated the age-related changes of malondialdehyde (MDA), a lipid peroxidation product, and glutathione (GSH) and the effects of exogenous melatonin. Methods: Plasma, liver, and lung MDA and GSH levels of 9- and 28-month-old rats were measured. Results: Plasma, lung, and liver MDA levels of old rats were significantly higher than those of the young ones (p = 0.024, p = 0.005, and p = 0.0007, respectively). However, while the lung GSH levels were found to be significantly decreased in the control group of old rats as compared with young ones (p = 0.005), the liver GSH levels were unchanged. Plasma MDA levels were found to be significantly lower in the melatonin group of old rats as compared with the control group (p = 0.020) but lung and liver MDA levels were not significantly different. There were no significant differences in the levels of measured parameters between both groups of young rats. Conclusion: Our results suggest that increased levels of lipid peroxidation products may have a role in aging, and exogenous melatonin may delay the aging process of tissues by means of its free radical scavenging effects.
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