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Review Article



MELATONIN: POTENTIAL UTILITY FOR IMPROVING PUBLIC HEALTH

Russel J REITER*; Fatih GULTEKIN; Luis J FLORES; Ma Pilar TERRON; Dun-Xian TAN.

Cited by (17)

Abstract
This review summarizes the beneficial actions of melatonin in various experimental conditions/diseases and identifies where the use of melatonin may be helpful in improving public health. The nightly use of melatonin supplements by humans often improves their sleep and helps correct the circadian dyssynchronization associated with “jet lag”. Additionally, melatonin has been found effective in curtailing the growth of a variety of experimental cancers. Mechanistically, this is achieved by melatonin’s ability to limit fatty acid uptake, especially linoleic acid, by tumor cells. Fatty acids are growth factors for many tumors. Additionally, melatonin inhibits the elevated telomerase activity of tumor cells thus making them more fragile and vulnerable to chemotherapies. Melatonin also may inhibit angiogenesis in tumors by suppressing endothelin-1 production and the indole interferes with the stimulatory action of steroids on hormone-responsive tumors. As an ubiquitously-acting antioxidant, melatonin reduces cardiac damage during ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury (heart attack) and during I/R to the brain (stroke). Melatonin also limits the toxicity of amyloid  peptide and of neurofibrillary tangles, two of the cardinal signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Collectively, these data suggest supplementation with melatonin, whose endogenous levels decrease with age, may improve the quality of life in the aged and, as a consequence, be beneficial for public health generally.

Key words: Melatonin, free radical scavenger, antioxidant, ischemia/reperfusion, cancer, Alzheimer disease, sleep, jet lag


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