Melatonin and atopy: Role in atopic dermatitis and asthma

Lucia Marseglia, Gabriella D'Angelo, Ignazio Barberi, Sara Manti, Carmelo Salpietro, Teresa Arrigo, Russel J. Reiter, Eloisa Gitto

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


Melatonin may have important immunostimulatory actions in allergic diseases, in addition to its well-known antioxidant and cytoprotective effects in several inflammatory conditions. The activation of the immune system leads to free radical production associated with decreased melatonin levels and depressed antioxidant enzyme activities in several inflammatory diseases. Many skin disorders, including atopic dermatitis, are accompanied by infiltration and activation of mast cells, which release vasoactive and proinflammatory mediators. Experimental data suggest that melatonin inhibits development of atopic eczema and reduces serum total IgE and IL-4. Allergic asthma is a condition characterized by bronchial hyperresponsiveness and the presence of IgE antibodies in response to inhaled allergens; often there is also enhanced total serum IgE levels. Melatonin regulates smooth muscle tone and influences the immune response. Melatonin may, however, act as a pro-inflammatory agent in asthma leading to bronchial constriction. The safety of melatonin as a sleep-inducing agent has been confirmed in asthmatic subjects, but its routine use is not recommended in bronchial asthma. This review summarizes what is known about the role of melatonin as an immunomodulatory agent in asthma and atopic eczema.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13482-13493
Number of pages12
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 4 2014


  • Allergy
  • Atopic eczema
  • Bronchial asthma
  • Melatonin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Catalysis
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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