Protective Effects of Melatonin on the Skin: Future Perspectives

Int J Mol Sci. 2019 Oct 8;20(19):4948. doi: 10.3390/ijms20194948.


When exposed to hostile environments such as radiation, physical injuries, chemicals, pollution, and microorganisms, the skin requires protective chemical molecules and pathways. Melatonin, a highly conserved ancient molecule, plays a crucial role in the maintenance of skin. As human skin has functional melatonin receptors and also acts as a complete system that is capable of producing and regulating melatonin synthesis, melatonin is a promising candidate for its maintenance and protection. Below, we review the studies of new metabolic pathways involved in the protective functions of melatonin in dermal cells. We also discuss the advantages of the topical use of melatonin for therapeutic purposes and skin protection. In our view, endogenous intracutaneous melatonin production, together with topically-applied exogenous melatonin and its metabolites, represent two of the most potent defense systems against external damage to the skin.

Keywords: aging; melatonin; mitochondria; oxidative stress; skin.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Melatonin / administration & dosage
  • Melatonin / metabolism*
  • Melatonin / pharmacology*
  • Metabolic Networks and Pathways
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Protective Agents / administration & dosage
  • Protective Agents / metabolism*
  • Protective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Skin / drug effects
  • Skin / metabolism*


  • Antioxidants
  • Protective Agents
  • Melatonin