Background: Radiation-induced enteritis and proctitis are common side effects of abdominopelvic cancers among patients that undergo radiotherapy for prostate, colorectal or urinary cancers. Exposure of these tissues to high doses of radiation leads to damage to villous, inflammation, pain, ulcer and bleeding, which may cause malabsorption and gastrointestinal disorders. To date, several procedures such as pharmaceutical treatment have been proposed for protection and mitigation of gastrointestinal toxicity following radiotherapy. In current study, we aimed to investigate the possible radioprotection of ileum and colon in rats using a combination of melatonin and metformin.
Materials and methods: In this experimental study, 30 male Wistar rats were randomly assigned to six groups: control, melatonin (100 mg/kg) treatment, melatonin (100 mg/kg) plus metformin (100 mg/kg) treatment, radiation (10 Gy to whole body) group, radiation + melatonin (100 mg/kg) treatment, and radiation + melatonin (100 mg/kg) plus metformin (100 mg/kg) treatment. After 3.5 days, rats were sacrificed and their ileum and colon tissues carefully removed. Histopathological evaluations were conducted on these tissue samples.
Results: Histological evaluations reported moderate to severe damages to ileum and colon following whole body irradiation. Melatonin administration was able to protect the ileum remarkably, while the combination of melatonin and metformin was less effective. Interestingly, for the colon, melatonin was less effective while its combination with metformin was able to protect against radiation toxicity completely.
Conclusion: For the ileum, melatonin was a more effective radioprotector compared to its combination with metformin. However, the combination of melatonin and metformin can be proposed as an ideal radioprotector for the colon.