Melatonin and its metabolites vs oxidative stress: From individual actions to collective protection

Annia Galano, Russel J. Reiter

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

234 Scopus citations


Oxidative stress (OS) represents a threat to the chemical integrity of biomolecules including lipids, proteins, and DNA. The associated molecular damage frequently results in serious health issues, which justifies our concern about this phenomenon. In addition to enzymatic defense mechanisms, there are compounds (usually referred to as antioxidants) that offer chemical protection against oxidative events. Among them, melatonin and its metabolites constitute a particularly efficient chemical family. They offer protection against OS as individual chemical entities through a wide variety of mechanisms including electron transfer, hydrogen transfer, radical adduct formation, and metal chelation, and by repairing biological targets. In fact, many of them including melatonin can be classified as multipurpose antioxidants. However, what seems to be unique to the melatonin's family is their collective effects. Because the members of this family are metabolically related, most of them are expected to be present in living organisms wherever melatonin is produced. Therefore, the protection exerted by melatonin against OS may be viewed as a result of the combined antioxidant effects of the parent molecule and its metabolites. Melatonin's family is rather exceptional in this regard, offering versatile and collective antioxidant protection against OS. It certainly seems that melatonin is one of the best nature's defenses against oxidative damage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12514
JournalJournal of pineal research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 2018


  • antioxidative
  • kinetics
  • mechanisms
  • metal chelation
  • radical scavenging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology


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