Ischemic brain injury: New insights on the protective role of melatonin

Eva Ramos, Paloma Patiño, Russel J. Reiter, Emilio Gil-Martín, José Marco-Contelles, Esther Parada, Cristobal de los Rios, Alejandro Romero, Javier Egea

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


Stroke represents one of the most common causes of brain's vulnerability for many millions of people worldwide. The plethora of physiopathological events associated with brain ischemia are regulate through multiple signaling pathways leading to the activation of oxidative stress process, Ca2+ dyshomeostasis, mitochondrial dysfunction, proinflammatory mediators, excitotoxicity and/or programmed neuronal cell death. Understanding this cascade of molecular events is mandatory in order to develop new therapeutic strategies for stroke. In this review article, we have highlighted the pleiotropic effects of melatonin to counteract the multiple processes of the ischemic cascade. Additionally, experimental evidence supports its actions to ameliorate ischemic long-term behavioural and neuronal deficits, preserving the functional integrity of the blood-brain barrier, inducing neurogenesis and cell proliferation through receptor-dependent mechanism, as well as improving synaptic transmission. Consequently, the synthesis of melatonin derivatives designed as new multitarget-directed products has focused a great interest in this area. This latter has been reinforced by the low cost of melatonin and its reduced toxicity. Furthermore, its spectrum of usages seems to be wide and with the potential for improving human health. Nevertheless, the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying melatonin´s actions need to be further exploration and accordingly, new clinical studies should be conducted in human patients with ischemic brain pathologies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)32-53
Number of pages22
JournalFree Radical Biology and Medicine
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017


  • Brain ischemia
  • Free radicals
  • Melatonin
  • Neuroprotection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology (medical)
  • Biochemistry


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