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Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2018 Jun 14:1-13. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2018.1487927. [Epub ahead of print]

Anti-inflammatory effects of Melatonin: A mechanistic review.

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a Applied Biotechnology Research Center, Baqiyatallah University of Medical Sciences , Tehran , Iran.
b Grup de Nutrició Comunitària i Estrès Oxidatiu and CIBEROBN (Physiopathology of Obesity and Nutrition), Universitat de les Illes Balears , Palma de E-07122 Mallorca , Spain.
c Institute of Chinese Medical Sciences, State Key Laboratory of Quality Control in Chinese Medicine, University of Macau , Macau SAR , China.
d Department of Pharmacology , School of Medicine, Tehran University of Medical Sciences , Tehran , Iran.
e School of Pharmacy, Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences , Kermanshah , Iran.
f National Institute for Agricultural and Veterinary Research (INIAV), I.P. , Vairão , Vila do Conde , Portugal.
g Center for Study in Animal Science (CECA), ICETA, University of Oporto , Oporto , Portugal.
h Department of Drug Sciences , Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Technology Section, University of Pavia , Pavia , Italy.
i Department of Pharmacy , Abdul Wali Khan University , Mardan , Pakistan.


N-acetyl-5-methoxy-tryptamine (melatonin) is a natural substance produced both by plants, as a secondary metabolite, and animals, by the pineal gland and other tissues. In humans, melatonin participates in numerous functions including the regulation of mood, sleep, reproduction, promotion of immunomodulation, antioxidant defense and as an anti-inflammatory agent. The anti-inflammatory activity of melatonin could yield beneficial effects on intake, particularly against the chronic inflammation which underlies many chronic diseases. This review aims to provide an assessment of the literature data on the anti-inflammatory activity of melatonin, with a particular focus on the mechanisms responsible for this behavior. We can conclude that many in vitro studies and in vivo studies in experimental animal model systems show that melatonin exerts anti-inflammatory activity in a number of chronic diseases which affect different organs in different circumstances. Clinical trials, however, often fail to reach positive results and are thus far inconclusive. Thus, in the future, long-term well-designed investigations on melatonin-rich foods or melatonin food supplements could provide valuable information towards public health recommendations on melatonin, taking into account both the nature of the compound and the optimal dose, for protection from long-term inflammation linked to chronic diseases.


chronic inflammation; nuclear factor kappa-B; oxidative stress; pro-inflammatory markers

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