Melatonin supplementation ameliorates oxidative stress and inflammatory signaling induced by strenuous exercise in adult human males

J Pineal Res. 2011 Nov;51(4):373-80. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-079X.2011.00899.x. Epub 2011 May 26.


Strenuous exercise induces inflammatory reactions together with high production of free radicals and subsequent muscle damage. This study was designed to investigate for the first time and simultaneously whether over-expression of inflammatory mediators, oxidative stress, and alterations in biochemical parameters induced by acute exercise could be prevented by melatonin. This indoleamine is a potent, endogenously produced free radical scavenger and a broad-spectrum antioxidant; consequently, it might have positive effects on the recovery following an exercise session. The participants were classified into two groups: melatonin-treated men (MG) and placebo-treated individuals (controls group, CG). The physical test consisted in a constant run that combined several degrees of high effort (mountain run and ultra-endurance). The total distance of the run was 50 km with almost 2800 m of ramp in permanent climbing and very changeable climatic conditions. Exercise was associated with a significant increase in TNF-α, IL-6, IL-1ra (in blood), and also an increase in 8-hydroxy-2'-deoxyguanosine (8-OHdG) and isoprostane levels (in urine), and indicated the degree of oxidative stress and inflammation induced. Oral supplementation of melatonin during high-intensity exercise proved efficient in reducing the degree of oxidative stress (lower levels of lipid peroxidation, with a significant increase in antioxidative enzyme activities); this would lead to the maintenance of the cellular integrity and reduce secondary tissue damage. Data obtained also indicate that melatonin has potent protective effects, by preventing over-expression of pro-inflammatory mediators and inhibiting the effects of several pro-inflammatory cytokines. In summary, melatonin supplementation before strenuous exercise reduced muscle damage through modulation of oxidative stress and inflammation signaling associated with this physical challenge.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • 8-Hydroxy-2'-Deoxyguanosine
  • Deoxyguanosine / analogs & derivatives
  • Deoxyguanosine / urine
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / blood
  • Inflammation / drug therapy*
  • Inflammation / etiology
  • Interleukin 1 Receptor Antagonist Protein / blood
  • Interleukin-6 / blood
  • Isoprostanes / urine
  • Male
  • Melatonin / therapeutic use*
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / blood


  • Interleukin 1 Receptor Antagonist Protein
  • Interleukin-6
  • Isoprostanes
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • 8-Hydroxy-2'-Deoxyguanosine
  • Deoxyguanosine
  • Melatonin