This paper summarizes the recent findings which show that the neural hormone melatonin is a free radical scavenger and general antioxidant. When compared with other antioxidants melatonin seems to have greater efficacy in protecting against cellular oxidative stress. These findings illustrate that melatonin preserves macromolecules including DNA, protein and lipid from oxidative damage following the administration of the chemical carcinogen, safrole, after exposure to ionizing radiation, following glutathione depletion, and after administration of the free radical generating herbicide, paraquat. In vitro evidence shows that melatonin is a potent scavenger of the highly toxic hydroxyl radical and in vitro evidence suggests that melatonin is an important and powerful antioxidant. Considering its high lipophilicity and its non-toxic nature as well as its ability to readily cross the blood-brain barrier, the neurohormone melatonin may prove to be an effective and important molecule in the antioxidative defense system, especially in the central nervous system. Besides the ease with which melatonin enters the brain, neurons seem to accumulate readily this hormone.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Cell Biology