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Exp Eye Res. 2012 Oct;103:82-9. doi: 10.1016/j.exer.2012.08.009. Epub 2012 Aug 31.

Melatonin: an underappreciated player in retinal physiology and pathophysiology.

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  • 1Circadian Rhythms and Sleep Disorders Program, Neuroscience Institute, Morehouse School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA 30310, USA. gtosini@msm.edu

Abstract

In the vertebrate retina, melatonin is synthesized by the photoreceptors with high levels of melatonin at night and lower levels during the day. Melatonin exerts its influence by interacting with a family of G-protein-coupled receptors that are negatively coupled with adenylyl cyclase. Melatonin receptors belonging to the subtypes MT(1) and MT(2) have been identified in the mammalian retina. MT(1) and MT(2) receptors are found in all layers of the neural retina and in the retinal pigmented epithelium. Melatonin in the eye is believed to be involved in the modulation of many important retinal functions; it can modulate the electroretinogram (ERG), and administration of exogenous melatonin increases light-induced photoreceptor degeneration. Melatonin may also have protective effects on retinal pigment epithelial cells, photoreceptors and ganglion cells. A series of studies have implicated melatonin in the pathogenesis of age-related macular degeneration, and melatonin administration may represent a useful approach to prevent and treat glaucoma. Melatonin is used by millions of people around the world to retard aging, improve sleep performance, mitigate jet lag symptoms, and treat depression. Administration of exogenous melatonin at night may also be beneficial for ocular health, but additional investigation is needed to establish its potential.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

PMID:
22960156
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3462291
Free PMC Article

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