Essential actions of melatonin in protecting the ovary from oxidative damage

M. H.C. Cruz, C. L.V. Leal, J. F. Cruz, D. X. Tan, R. J. Reiter

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


Free radicals and other reactive species are involved in normal ovarian physiology. However, they are also highly reactive with complex cellular molecules (proteins, lipids, and DNA) and alter their functions leading to oxidative stress. Oxidative damage may play a prominent role in the development of disorders that considerably influence female fertility. Melatonin, because of its amphiphilic nature that allows for crossing morphophysiological barriers, is an effective antioxidant for protecting macromolecules against oxidative stress caused by reactive species. The balance between reactive oxygen species and antioxidants within the follicle seems to be critical to the function of the oocyte and granulosa cells and evidence has accumulated showing that melatonin is involved in the protection of these cells. Melatonin appears to have varied functions at different stages of follicle development, oocyte maturation, and luteal stage. Melatonin concentration in the growing follicle may be an important factor in avoiding atresia, because melatonin in the follicular fluid reduces apoptosis of critical cells. Melatonin also has protective actions during oocyte maturation reducing intrafollicular oxidative damage. An association between melatonin concentrations in follicular fluid and oocyte quality has been reported; this would allow a preovulatory follicle to fully develop and provide a competent oocyte for fertilization. The functional role of reactive species and the cytoprotective properties of melatonin on the ovary from oxidative damage are summarized in this brief review.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)925-932
Number of pages8
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 15 2014


  • Follicle
  • Oxidative stress
  • Radical scavenging
  • Reactive species

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Animals
  • Small Animals
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Equine


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