Melatonin and morphine: potential beneficial effects of co-use

Karim Hemati, Mohammad Hossein Pourhanifeh, Ehsan Dehdashtian, Iman Fatemi, Saeed Mehrzadi, Russel J. Reiter, Azam Hosseinzadeh

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Morphine is a potent analgesic agent used to control acute or chronic pain. Chronic administration of morphine results in analgesic tolerance, hyperalgesia, and other side effects including dependence, addiction, respiratory depression, and constipation, which limit its clinical usage. Therefore, identifying the new analgesics with fewer side effects which could increase the effect of morphine and reduce its side effects is crucial. Melatonin, a multifunctional molecule produced in the body, is known to play an important role in pain regulation. The strong anti-inflammatory effect of melatonin is suggested to be involved in the attenuation of the pain associated with inflammation. Melatonin also increases the anti-nociceptive actions of opioids, such as morphine, and reverses their tolerance through regulating several cellular signaling pathways. In this review, published articles evaluating the effect of the co-consumption of melatonin and morphine in different conditions were investigated. Our results show that melatonin has pain-killing properties when administered alone or in combination with other anti-nociceptive drugs. Melatonin decreases morphine consumption in different pathologies. Furthermore, attenuation of morphine intake can be accompanied by reduction of morphine-associated side-effects, including physical dependence, morphine tolerance, and morphine-related hyperalgesia. Therefore, it is reasonable to believe that the combination of melatonin with morphine could reduce morphine-induced tolerance and hyperalgesia, which may result from anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of melatonin. Overall, we underscore that, to further ameliorate patients' life quality and control their pain in various pathological conditions, melatonin deserves to be used with morphine by anesthesiologists in clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-39
Number of pages15
JournalFundamental and Clinical Pharmacology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2021


  • melatonin
  • morphine
  • pain
  • synergism
  • tolerance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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