Potential Utility of Melatonin in Preeclampsia, Intrauterine Fetal Growth Retardation, and Perinatal Asphyxia

Lucia Marseglia, Gabriella D'Angelo, Sara Manti, Russel J Reiter, Eloisa Gitto

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Aim: Reactive oxygen species play an important role in the pathogenesis of several diseases during gestation and the perinatal period. During pregnancy, increased oxygen demand augments the rate of production of free radicals. Oxidative stress is involved in pregnancy disorders including preeclampsia and intrauterine fetal growth retardation (IUGR). Moreover, increased levels of oxidative stress and reduced antioxidative capacities may contribute to the pathogenesis of perinatal asphyxia. Melatonin, an efficient antioxidant agent, diffuses through biological membranes easily and exerts pleiotropic actions on every cell and appears to be essential for successful gestation. This narrative review summarizes current knowledge concerning the role of melatonin in reducing complications during human pregnancy and in the perinatal period. Results: Melatonin levels are altered in women with abnormally functioning placentae during preeclampsia and IUGR. Short-term melatonin therapy is highly effective and safe in reducing complications during pregnancy and in the perinatal period. Because melatonin has been shown to be safe for both mother and fetus, it could be an attractive therapy in pregnancy and is considered a promising neuroprotective agent in perinatal asphyxia. Conclusion: We believe that the use of melatonin treatment during the late fetal and early neonatal period might result in a wide range of health benefits, improved quality of life, and may help limit complications during the critical periods prior to, and shortly after, delivery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)970-977
Number of pages8
JournalReproductive Sciences
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016


  • antioxidant
  • asphyxia
  • gestation
  • melatonin
  • oxidative stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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