Roles of melatonin in the field of reproductive medicine

Biomed Pharmacother. 2021 Dec;144:112001. doi: 10.1016/j.biopha.2021.112001. Epub 2021 Oct 6.


Melatonin, mostly released by the pineal gland, is a circadian rhythm-regulated and multifunctional hormone. Great advances in melatonin research have been made, including its role in rhythms of the sleep-wake cycle, retardation of ageing processes, as well as antioxidant or anti-inflammatory functions. Melatonin can scavenge free radicals such as reactive oxygen species (ROS), a key factor in reproductive functions. Melatonin plays an important role in oocyte maturation, fertilization and embryonic development as well. The concurrent use of melatonin increases the number of mature oocytes, the fertilization rate, and number of high-quality embryos, which improves the clinical outcome of assisted reproductive technology (ART). This review discusses the relationship between melatonin and human reproductive function, and potential clinical applications of melatonin in the field of reproductive medicine.

Keywords: ART; Infertility; Melatonin; Oxidative stress.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Embryo Transfer
  • Embryonic Development / drug effects
  • Female
  • Fertility / drug effects*
  • Fertility Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Fertilization in Vitro
  • Free Radical Scavengers / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Oocyte Maturation Techniques
  • Infertility / metabolism
  • Infertility / physiopathology
  • Infertility / therapy*
  • Male
  • Melatonin / metabolism
  • Melatonin / therapeutic use*
  • Ovary / drug effects
  • Ovary / metabolism
  • Ovary / physiopathology
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Reproduction / drug effects*
  • Reproductive Medicine*
  • Reproductive Techniques, Assisted*


  • Fertility Agents
  • Free Radical Scavengers
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Melatonin