Stress can cause many harmful effects to our body including our brain. Stress induces release of glucocorticoid hormone, which prepares our body to cope with stress.
The hormone can cause neuronal damage in the brain and reduce repairing process. Luckily we may be able to prevent this damage. Prof. Dr. Piyarat Govitrapongused an in vitro model to study the direct effects of melatonin and dexamethasone on the proliferation of adult hippocampal progenitor cells in culture. Her research group found that the addition of dexamethasone to hippocampal progenitor cells obtained from adult rats resulted in a reduction in the number of neurospheres, and pretreatment with melatonin abolished these effects. Considering the novel function of new neurons in stress response regulation, melatonin could possibly be used as a therapeutic agent to protect the decrease of neurogenesis, which in turn could restore the stress response system to prevent long-term stress-induced depression.
Ekthuwapranee K(1), Sotthibundhu A(2), Tocharus C(3), Govitrapong P(4). Melatonin ameliorates dexamethasone-induced inhibitory effects on the proliferation of cultured progenitor cells obtained from adult rat hippocampus. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2015 Jan;145:38-48.