Melatonin, a major hormone of the pineal gland, exerts many beneficial effects on mitochondria. Several studies have shown that melatonin can protect against toxin‐induced oocyte quality impairment during maturation. However, there is little information regarding the beneficial effects of melatonin on toxin‐exposed early embryos, and the mechanisms underlying such effects have not been determined. Rotenone, a chemical widely used in agriculture, induces mitochondrial toxicity, therefore, damaging the reproductive system, impairing oocyte maturation, ovulation, and fertilization. We investigated whether melatonin attenuated rotenone exposure‐induced impairment of embryo development by its mitochondrial protection effect. Activated oocytes were randomly assigned to four groups: the control, melatonin treatment, rotenone‐exposed, and “rotenone + melatonin” groups. Treatment with melatonin abrogated rotenone‐induced impairment of embryo development, mitochondrial dysfunction, and ATP deficiency, and significantly decreased oxidative stress and apoptosis. Melatonin also increased SIRT1 and PGC‐1α expression, which promoted mitochondrial biogenesis. SIRT1 knockdown or pharmacological inhibition abolished melatonin's ability to revert rotenone‐induced impairment. Thus, melatonin rescued rotenone‐induced impairment of embryo development by reducing ROS production and promoting mitochondrial biogenesis. This study shows that melatonin rescues toxin‐induced impairment of early porcine embryo development by promoting mitochondrial biogenesis.
Keywords : melatonin, mitochondrial biogenesis, oxidative stress, porcine embryo, rotenone