Melatonin and ulcerative colitis: evidence, biological mechanisms, and future research

Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2009 Jan;15(1):134-40. doi: 10.1002/ibd.20527.


Ulcerative colitis (UC) is an inflammatory bowel disease that afflicts up to 1 million people in the US. Current treatments for UC are mostly nonspecific, not always effective, and often accompanied by serious side effects. Therefore, there is considerable interest in finding alternative and more tolerable treatments for this disease. Physiologic data suggest that melatonin is an important regulator of both inflammation and motility in the gastrointestinal tract, and data from in vitro studies, animal experiments, and limited studies in humans suggest that supplemental melatonin may have an ameliorative effect on colitis. In this review we summarize the evidence regarding melatonin as a possible therapeutic agent in UC and discuss possible biological mechanisms and directions for future research.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / drug therapy
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Melatonin / physiology*
  • Melatonin / therapeutic use


  • Melatonin