Melatonin and its metabolites: New findings regarding their production and their radical scavenging actions

Russel J. Reiter, Dun Xian Tan, M. Pilar Terron, Luis J. Flores, Zbigniew Czarnocki

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

325 Scopus citations


This review summarizes some of the recent findings concerning the long-held tenet that the enzyme, N-acetyltransferase, which is involved in the production of N-acetylserotonin, the immediate precursor of melatonin, may in fact not always control the quantity of melatonin generated. New evidence from several different laboratories indicates that hydroxyindole-O-methyltransferase, which O-methylates N-acetylserotonin to melatonin may be rate-limiting in some cases. Also, the review makes the point that melatonin's actions are uncommonly widespread in organs due to the fact that it works via membrane receptors, nuclear receptors/binding sites and receptor-independent mechanisms, i.e., the direct scavenging of free radicals. Finally, the review briefly summarizes the actions of melatonin and its metabolites in the detoxification of oxygen and nitrogen-based free radicals and related non-radical products. Via these multiple processes, melatonin is capable of influencing the metabolism of every cell in the organism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalActa Biochimica Polonica
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2007


  • Antioxidant
  • Electron donation
  • Free radicals
  • Melatonin synthesis
  • Oxidative stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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