Melatonin and Health: Insights of Melatonin Action, Biological Functions, and Associated Disorders

Cell Mol Neurobiol. 2023 Aug;43(6):2437-2458. doi: 10.1007/s10571-023-01324-w. Epub 2023 Feb 8.


Melatonin is ubiquitous molecule with wide distribution in nature and is produced by many living organisms. In human beings, pineal gland is the major site for melatonin production and to lesser extent by retina, lymphocytes, bone marrow, gastrointestinal tract, and thymus. Melatonin as a neurohormone is released into circulation wherein it penetrates all tissues of the body. Melatonin synthesis and secretion is supressed by light and enhanced by dark. Melatonin mostly exerts its effect through different pathways with melatonin receptor 1 (MT1) and melatonin receptor 2 (MT2) being the predominant type of receptor that are mainly expressed by many mammalian organs. Melatonin helps to regulate sleep patterns and circadian rhythms. In addition, melatonin acts as an antioxidant and scavenges excessive free radicals generated in the body by anti-excitatory and anti-inflammatory properties. A multiple array of other functions are displayed by melatonin that include oncostatic, hypnotic, immune regulation, reproduction, puberty timing, mood disorders, and transplantation. Deficiencies in the production or synthesis of melatonin have been found to be associated with onset of many disorders like breast cancer and neurodegenerative disorders. Melatonin could be used as potential analgesic drug in diseases associated with pain and it has quite promising role there. In the past century, a growing interest has been developed regarding the wide use of melatonin in treating various diseases like inflammatory, gastrointestinal, cancer, mood disorders, and others. Several melatonin agonists have been synthesized and are widely used in disease treatment. In this review, an effort has been made to describe the biochemistry of melatonin along with its therapeutic potential in various diseases of humans.

Keywords: Agonists; Antioxidant; Diseases; Melatonin; Therapeutic.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology
  • Humans
  • Mammals / metabolism
  • Melatonin* / metabolism
  • Pineal Gland* / metabolism
  • Receptors, Melatonin / metabolism


  • Melatonin
  • Receptors, Melatonin
  • Antioxidants