Anti-inflammatory effects of melatonin in multiple sclerosis

Bioessays. 2016 Oct;38(10):1016-26. doi: 10.1002/bies.201600018. Epub 2016 Aug 26.


Melatonin is a hormone with complex roles in the pathogenesis of autoimmune disorders. Over the years, it has become clear that melatonin may exacerbate some autoimmune conditions, whereas it alleviates others such as multiple sclerosis. Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disorder characterized by a dysregulated immune response directed against the central nervous system. Indeed, the balance between pathogenic CD4(+) T cells secreting IFN-γ (TH 1) or IL-17 (TH 17); and FoxP3(+) regulatory T cells and IL-10(+) type 1 regulatory T cells (Tr1 cells) is thought to play an important role in disease activity. Recent evidence suggests that melatonin ameliorates multiple sclerosis by controlling the balance between effector and regulatory cells, suggesting that melatonin-triggered signaling pathways are potential targets for therapeutic intervention. Here, we review the available data on the effects of melatonin on immune processes relevant for MS and discuss its therapeutic potential.

Keywords: MTNR1A; ROR-α; TH17 cells; Tr1 regulatory cells; melatonin; multiple sclerosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Immune System / drug effects
  • Melatonin / pharmacology*
  • Melatonin / therapeutic use
  • Multiple Sclerosis / drug therapy*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Melatonin