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Review
, 7 (4), 488-92

Role of Melatonin in Embryo Fetal Development

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Review

Role of Melatonin in Embryo Fetal Development

S E Voiculescu et al. J Med Life.

Abstract

Melatonin is an indoleamine produced by the pineal gland and secreted in a circadian manner. In the past few decades, research over this topic has been enhanced. Melatonin has many important roles in the human physiology: regulator of the circadian rhythms, sleep inducer, antioxidant, anticarcinogenic. This paper reviews the involvement of melatonin in embryo fetal development. The pineal gland develops completely postpartum, so both the embryo and the fetus are dependent on the maternal melatonin provided transplacentally. Melatonin appears to be involved in the normal outcome of pregnancy beginning with the oocyte quality and finishing with the parturition. Its pregnancy night-time concentrations increase after 24 weeks of gestation, with significantly high levels after 32 weeks. Melatonin receptors are widespread in the embryo and fetus since early stages. There is solid evidence that melatonin is neuroprotective and has a positive effect on the outcome of the compromised pregnancies. In addition, chronodisruption leads to a reproductive dysfunction. Thus, the influence of melatonin on the developing human fetus may not be limited to the entertaining of circadian rhythmicity, but further studies are needed.

Keywords: circadian rhythm; embryo-fetal development; melatonin.

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