Melatonin: From Neurobiology to Treatment

Brain Sci. 2021 Aug 25;11(9):1121. doi: 10.3390/brainsci11091121.


Melatonin, the major regulator of the sleep/wake cycle, also plays important physiological and pharmacological roles in the control of neuronal plasticity and neuroprotection. Accordingly, the secretion of this hormone reaches the maximal extent during brain development (childhood-adolescence) while it is greatly reduced during aging, a condition associated to altered sleep pattern and reduced neuronal plasticity. Altogether, these properties of melatonin have allowed us to demonstrate in both experimental models and clinical studies the great chronobiotic efficacy and sleep promoting effects of exogenous melatonin. Thus, the prolonged release formulation of melatonin, present as a drug in the pharmaceutical market, has been recently recommended for the treatment of insomnia in over 55 years old subjects.

Keywords: aging; circadian rhythm; melatonin; neuronal plasticity; neuroprotection; pregnancy; wake/sleep cycle.

Publication types

  • Review