Background Necrotizing enterocolitis is a gastrointestinal surgical emergency in premature neonates. Free radicals have been linked to the development of the disease in infants. Ischemia, hypoxia-reperfusion, infection, and inflammation produce elevated levels of reactive oxygen species, impairing the redox balance and shifting cells into a state of oxidative stress. Melatonin, an effective direct free-radical scavenger and indirect antioxidant agent, exerts pleiotropic action on the human body. Several studies have tested the efficacy of melatonin in counteracting oxidative injury in diseases of newborns. Melatonin has been widely used in newborns including cases of asphyxia, respiratory distress syndrome, and sepsis, and no significant toxicity or treatment-related side effects with long-term melatonin therapy have been reported. Conclusion Therefore, melatonin, besides standard therapies, could be considered as a potentially safe approach to prevent and treat necrotizing enterocolitis in premature infants. This review summarizes what is known about the role of oxidative stress, and potentially beneficial effects of antioxidants, such as melatonin, in necrotizing enterocolitis.
- free radicals
- necrotizing enterocolitis
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Obstetrics and Gynecology