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World J Diabetes. 2011 Jun 15;2(6):82-91. doi: 10.4239/wjd.v2.i6.82.

Role of melatonin on diabetes-related metabolic disorders.

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Javier Espino, José A Pariente, Ana B Rodríguez, Department of Physiology, Neuroimmunophysiology and Chrononutrition Research Group, Faculty of Science, University of Extremadura, Badajoz 06006, Spain.


Melatonin is a circulating hormone that is mainly released from the pineal gland. It is best known as a regulator of seasonal and circadian rhythms, its levels being high during the night and low during the day. Interestingly, insulin levels are also adapted to day/night changes through melatonin-dependent synchronization. This regulation may be explained by the inhibiting action of melatonin on insulin release, which is transmitted through both the pertussis-toxin-sensitive membrane receptors MT(1) and MT(2) and the second messengers 3',5'-cyclic adenosine monophosphate, 3',5'-cyclic guanosine monophosphate and inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate. Melatonin may influence diabetes and associated metabolic disturbances not only by regulating insulin secretion, but also by providing protection against reactive oxygen species, since pancreatic β-cells are very susceptible to oxidative stress because they possess only low-antioxidative capacity. On the other hand, in several genetic association studies, single nucleotide polymorphysms of the human MT(2) receptor have been described as being causally linked to an elevated risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This suggests that these individuals may be more sensitive to the actions of melatonin, thereby leading to impaired insulin secretion. Therefore, blocking the melatonin-induced inhibition of insulin secretion may be a novel therapeutic avenue for type 2 diabetes.


Circadian rhythm; Diabetes; Insulin secretion; Melatonin; Melatonin receptor; Pancreatic β-cell

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