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Minerva Ginecol. 2014 Jun;66(3):251-66.

Maternal and placental melatonin: actions and implication for successful pregnancies.

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INRS‑Institut Armand‑Frappier Université du Québec and BioMed Research Center Laval, Québec, Canada -


Melatonin is one of the main sources of mitochondrial protection and its protective effects are equal or even better if compared with several consecrated antioxidants. Furthermore, the activation of specific melatonin receptors triggers several cellular pathways that improve the oxidoreduction and inflammatory cellular state. The discovery of the melatoninergic machinery in placental cells was the first step to understand the effects of this indoleamine during pregnancy. In critical points of pregnancy, melatonin has been pointed as a protagonist and its beneficial effects have been shown as essential for the control of trophoblastic function and development. On the contrary of the plasmatic melatonin (produced in pineal gland), placental melatonin does not vary according to the circadian cycle and acts as an autocrine, paracrine, intracrine, and endocrine hormone. The important effects of melatonin in placenta have been demonstrated in the physiopathology of pre-eclampsia with alterations in the levels of melatonin and in the expression of its receptors and synthetizing enzymes. Some authors suggested melatonin as a biomarker of pre-eclampsia and as a possible treatment for this disease and other obstetric pathologies associated with placental defect and increases in oxidative stress. This review will approach the beneficial effects of melatonin on placenta homeostasis and consequently on pregnancy and fetal health.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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