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Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2002 Mar;4(1):57-72.


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  • 1Laboratoire de Neurobiologie des Rythmes, UMR 7518 CNRS-Université Louis Pasteur, Strasbourg, France.


Melatonin (MEL) is a hormone synthesized and secreted by the pineal gland deep within the brain in response to photoperiodic cues relayed from the retina via an endogenous circadian oscillator within the suprachiasmatic nucleus in the hypothalamus. The circadian rhythm of melatonin production and release, characterized by nocturnal activity and daytime quiescence, is an important temporal signal to the body structures that can read it. Melatonin acts through high-affinity receptors located centrally and in numerous peripheral organs. Different receptor subtypes have been cloned and characterized: MT(1) and MT(2) (transmembrane G-protein-coupled receptors), and MT(3). However, their physiological role remains unelucidated, although livestock management applications already include the control of seasonal breeding and milk production. As for potential therapeutic applications, exogenous melatonin or a melatonin agonist and selective 5-hydroxytrypiamine receptor (5-HT(2c)) antagonist, eg, S 20098, can be used to manipulate circadian processes such as the sleep-vake cycle, which are frequently disrupted in many conditions, most notably seasonal affective disorder.


S 20098; chronobiotic effect; circadian function; melatonin; melatonin agonist; melatonin antagonist; melatonin receptor; seasonal function

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