Melatonin is a small, highly conserved indole with numerous receptor-mediated and receptor-independent actions. Receptor-dependent functions include circadian rhythm regulation, sleep, and cancer inhibition. The receptor-independent actions relate to melatonin's ability to function in the detoxification of free radicals, thereby protecting critical molecules from the destructive effects of oxidative stress under conditions of ischemia/reperfusion injury (stroke, heart attack), ionizing radiation, and drug toxicity, among others. Melatonin has numerous applications in physiology and medicine.
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