Send to

Choose Destination
Aging Dis. 2012 Apr;3(2):194-225. Epub 2011 Feb 10.

Melatonin in aging and disease -multiple consequences of reduced secretion, options and limits of treatment.

Author information

Johann Friedrich Blumenbach Institute of Zoology and Anthropology, University of Göttingen, D-37073 Göttingen, Germany.


Melatonin is a pleiotropically acting regulator molecule, which influences numerous physiological functions. Its secretion by the pineal gland progressively declines by age. Strong reductions of circulating melatonin are also observed in numerous disorders and diseases, including Alzheimer's disease, various other neurological and stressful conditions, pain, cardiovascular diseases, cases of cancer, endocrine and metabolic disorders, in particular diabetes type 2. The significance of melatonergic signaling is also evident from melatonin receptor polymorphisms associated with several of these pathologies. The article outlines the mutual relationship between circadian oscillators and melatonin secretion, the possibilities for readjustment of rhythms by melatonin and its synthetic analogs, the consequences for circadian rhythm-dependent disorders concerning sleep and mood, and limits of treatment. The necessity of distinguishing between short-acting melatonergic effects, which are successful in sleep initiation and phase adjustments, and attempts of replacement strategies is emphasized. Properties of approved and some investigational melatonergic agonists are compared.


Alzheimer’s Disease; Circadian Rhythms; Diabetes; Melatonin; Mood Disorders; Parkinson’s Disease; Sleep


Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center