Potential benefits of melatonin in organ transplantation: A review

Eduardo Esteban-Zubero, Francisco Agustín García-Gil, Laura López-Pingarrón, Moisés Alejandro Alatorre-Jiménez, Pablo Iñigo-Gil, Dun Xian Tan, José Joaquín García, Russel J. Reiter

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Organ transplantation is a useful therapeutic tool for patients with end-stage organ failure; however, graft rejection is a major obstacle in terms of a successful treatment. Rejection is usually a consequence of a complex immunological and nonimmunological antigen-independent cascade of events, including free radical-mediated ischemiareperfusion injury (IRI). To reduce the frequency of this outcome, continuing improvements in the efficacy of antirejection drugs are a top priority to enhance the long-term survival of transplant recipients. Melatonin (N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine) is a powerful antioxidant and ant-inflammatory agent synthesized from the essential amino acid l-tryptophan; it is produced by the pineal gland as well as by many other organs including ovary, testes, bone marrow, gut, placenta, and liver. Melatonin has proven to be a potentially useful therapeutic tool in the reduction of graft rejection. Its benefits are based on its direct actions as a free radical scavenger as well as its indirect antioxidative actions in the stimulation of the cellular antioxidant defense system. Moreover, it has significant anti-inflammatory activity. Melatonin has been found to improve the beneficial effects of preservation fluids when they are enriched with the indoleamine. This article reviews the experimental evidence that melatonin is useful in reducing graft failure, especially in cardiac, bone, otolaryngology, ovarian, testicular, lung, pancreas, kidney, and liver transplantation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R129-R146
JournalJournal of Endocrinology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Graft failure
  • Ischemia-reperfusion injury
  • Melatonin
  • Organ transplantation
  • Preservation fluids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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