Melatonin and inflammatory bowel disease: From basic mechanisms to clinical application

Biochimie. 2023 Jun:209:20-36. doi: 10.1016/j.biochi.2022.12.007. Epub 2022 Dec 17.


Inflammatory bowel disease is a chronic inflammatory disease and has periods of recurrence and remission. Improper immune responses to gut flora bacteria, along with genetic susceptibility, appear to be involved in causing this complex disease. It seems dysbiosis and oxidative stress may also be involved in IBD pathogenesis. A significant number of clinical studies have shown an interesting association between sleep disturbances and IBD. Studies in animal models have also shown that sleep deprivation has a significant effect on the pathogenesis of IBD and can aggravate inflammation. These interesting findings have drawn attention to melatonin, a sleep-related hormone. Melatonin is mainly produced by the pineal gland, but many tissues in the body, including the intestines, can produce it. Melatonin can have an interesting effect on the pathogenesis of IBD. Melatonin can enhance the intestinal mucosal barrier, alter the composition of intestinal bacteria in favor of bacteria with anti-inflammatory properties, regulate the immune response, alleviate inflammation and attenuate oxidative stress. It seems that, melatonin supplementation is effective in relieving inflammation and healing intestinal ulcers in IBD animal models. Some clinical studies have also shown that melatonin supplementation as an adjuvant therapy may be helpful in reducing disease activity in IBD patients. In this review article, in addition to reviewing the effects of sleep disturbances and melatonin on key mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of IBD, we will review the findings of clinical studies regarding the effects of melatonin supplementation on IBD treatment.

Keywords: IBD; IBD treatment; Inflammation; Intestinal bacteria; Melatonin; Sleep disturbances.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteria
  • Inflammation / drug therapy
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases* / drug therapy
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases* / pathology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / pathology
  • Intestines
  • Melatonin* / therapeutic use


  • Melatonin