Melatonin accelerates the process of wound repair in full-thickness incisional wounds

J Pineal Res. 2008 May;44(4):387-96. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-079X.2007.00541.x. Epub 2008 Jan 19.


The pineal gland hormone melatonin is known to have both anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory effects. Given this, we propose that melatonin is an ideal candidate to enhance the process of wound healing. The present study assessed the effects of exogenously administered melatonin (1.2 mg/kg intra-dermal), on scar formation using a full-thickness incisional rat model of dermal wound healing. Melatonin treatment significantly improved the quality of scarring, both in terms of maturity and orientation of collagen fibres. An increase in nitric oxide synthase (NOS) activity and therefore nitric oxide production is detrimental during inflammation but is favourable during granulation tissue formation. Melatonin treatment significantly decreased inducible NOS (iNOS) activity during the acute inflammatory phase but significantly increased iNOS activity during the resolving phase. Cyclooxygenase-2, which has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects, was elevated in the melatonin-treated rats following wounding. In addition, melatonin treatment also accelerated the angiogenic process, increasing the formation of new blood vessels and elevating the level of vascular endothelial growth factor protein expression during granulation tissue formation. Melatonin treatment increased arginase activity (which generates proline, a building block for collagen synthesis) from earlier time points. The protein profiles of hemoxygenase-1 (HO-1) and HO-2 isoforms, vital participants in the repair process, were also up-regulated upon melatonin treatment. This study has therefore demonstrated, for the first time, that melatonin can significantly improve the quality of wound healing and scar formation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Arginase / metabolism
  • Cicatrix / enzymology
  • Cicatrix / pathology
  • Dermis / enzymology
  • Dermis / injuries
  • Dermis / pathology
  • Inflammation / drug therapy
  • Inflammation / enzymology
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Male
  • Melatonin / pharmacology*
  • Neovascularization, Physiologic / drug effects
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Wound Healing / drug effects*
  • Wounds, Penetrating / drug therapy*
  • Wounds, Penetrating / enzymology
  • Wounds, Penetrating / pathology


  • Antioxidants
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II
  • Nos2 protein, rat
  • Arginase
  • Melatonin