Melatonin, Mitochondria, and the Metabolic Syndrome

Cell Mol Life Sci. 2017 Nov;74(21):3941-3954. doi: 10.1007/s00018-017-2611-0. Epub 2017 Aug 17.


A number of risk factors for cardiovascular disease including hyperinsulinemia, glucose intolerance, dyslipidemia, obesity, and elevated blood pressure are collectively known as metabolic syndrome (MS). Since mitochondrial activity is modulated by the availability of energy in cells, the disruption of key regulators of metabolism in MS not only affects the activity of mitochondria but also their dynamics and turnover. Therefore, a link of MS with mitochondrial dysfunction has been suspected since long. As a chronobiotic/cytoprotective agent, melatonin has a special place in prevention and treatment of MS. Melatonin levels are reduced in diseases associated with insulin resistance like MS. Melatonin improves sleep efficiency and has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, partly for its role as a metabolic regulator and mitochondrial protector. We discuss in the present review the several cytoprotective melatonin actions that attenuate inflammatory responses in MS. The clinical data that support the potential therapeutical value of melatonin in human MS are reviewed.

Keywords: Aging; Diabetes; Inflammation; Insulin signaling; Melatonin; Metabolic syndrome; Mitochondria; Obesity.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Melatonin / pharmacology*
  • Metabolic Syndrome / prevention & control*
  • Mitochondria / drug effects
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*


  • Antioxidants
  • Melatonin