Melatonin and pregnancy in the human

Reprod Toxicol. 2008 Apr;25(3):291-303. doi: 10.1016/j.reprotox.2008.03.005. Epub 2008 Apr 1.


The purpose of this systematic review is to access the current state of knowledge concerning the role for melatonin in human pregnancy. Melatonin is a neuroendocrine hormone secreted nightly by pineal gland and regulates biological rhythms. The nighttime serum concentration of melatonin shows an incremental change toward the end of pregnancy. This small lipophilic indoleamine crosses the placenta freely without being altered. Maternal melatonin enters the fetal circulation with ease providing photoperiodic information to the fetus. Melatonin works in a variety of ways as a circadian rhythm modulator, endocrine modulator, immunomodulator, direct free radical scavenger and indirect antioxidant and cytoprotective agent in human pregnancy, and it appears to be essential for successful pregnancy. It also seems to be involved in correcting the pathophysiology of complications during pregnancy including those due to abortion, pre-eclampsia and fetal brain damage. The scientific evidence supporting a role for melatonin in human pregnancy is summarized.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Spontaneous / etiology
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Female
  • Fetal Development
  • Fetal Hypoxia / etiology
  • Humans
  • Maternal-Fetal Exchange
  • Melatonin / physiology*
  • Parturition
  • Pre-Eclampsia / etiology
  • Pregnancy / physiology*


  • Melatonin