Melatonin: a chemical photoperiodic signal with clinical significance in humans.
Secretion of pineal melatonin exhibits a diumal rhythm and a seasonal rhythm in humans. Night-time melatonin is high at 3-5 year-old and decreases with age. Many drugs and pathological conditions also change melatonin levels in the circulation. Melatonin has a mild sedative effect and has been used effectively in synchronizing the sleep-wake cycle of patients with sleep disorders. Immunoenhancing, anti-cancer, anti-aging and anti-oxidant effects of melatonin have been proposed. Recent studies suggest that melatonin receptors are present in central and peripheral tissues. The importance of melatonin receptors on the nervous, reproductive, immune and renal functions is implicated. Studies on the molecular biology, physiology and pathology of melatonin receptors in different tissues are progressing rapidly. The physiological and pathological changes in melatonin secretion, multifarious melatonin actions, and diverse melatonin receptors reported suggest that melatonin is a photoperiodic signal with clinical significance in humans.
Pang, SF; Pang, CS; Poon, AM; Lee, PP; Liu, ZM; Shiu, SY
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