Melatonin: Detoxification of oxygen and nitrogen-based toxic reactants

Russel J. Reiter, Dun Xian Tan, Lucien C. Manchester, Silvia Lopez-Burillo, Rosa M. Sainz, Juan C. Mayo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

109 Scopus citations


In the last decade, melatonin has been found to be highly protective against damage to macromolecules resulting from oxygen and nitrogen-based reactants. Considering this, numerous studies have examined the mechanisms whereby this indoleamine directly detoxifies these damaging agents. The evidence is compelling that melatonin scavenges several oxygen-derived reactive agents including the hydroxyl radical (OH), hydrogen peroxide (H 2O2), singlet oxygen (1O2) and hypochlorous acid (HOCl). Additionally, melatonin reportedly reacts with nitric oxide (NO), the peroxynitrite anion (ONOO-) and/or peroxynitrous acid (ONOOH) to detoxify them. In some cases the products that are formed as a consequence of melatonin's scavenging actions have been identified. Whereas the ability of melatonin to neutralize these toxic agents likely accounts, in part, for the antioxidant activity of melatonin, it is not the only means by which melatonin serves to protect molecules from oxygen and nitrogen-based reactive metabolites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)539-548
Number of pages10
JournalAdvances in experimental medicine and biology
StatePublished - 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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