Melatonin is uncommonly effective in reducing oxidative stress under a remarkably large number of circumstances. It achieves this action via a variety of means: direct detoxification of reactive oxygen and reactive nitrogen species and indirectly by stimulating antioxidant enzymes while suppressing the activity of pro‐oxidant enzymes. In addition to these well‐described actions, melatonin also reportedly chelates transition metals, which are involved in the Fenton/Haber–Weiss reactions; in doing so, melatonin reduces the formation of the devastatingly toxic hydroxyl radical resulting in the reduction of oxidative stress. Melatonin's ubiquitous but unequal intracellular distribution, including its high concentrations in mitochondria, likely aid in its capacity to resist oxidative stress and cellular apoptosis. There is credible evidence to suggest that melatonin should be classified as a mitochondria‐targeted antioxidant. Melatonin's capacity to prevent oxidative damage and the associated physiological debilitation is well documented in numerous experimental ischemia/reperfusion (hypoxia/reoxygenation) studies especially in the brain (stroke) and in the heart (heart attack). Melatonin, via its antiradical mechanisms, also reduces the toxicity of noxious prescription drugs and of methamphetamine, a drug of abuse. Experimental findings also indicate that melatonin renders treatment‐resistant cancers sensitive to various therapeutic agents and may be useful, due to its multiple antioxidant actions, in especially delaying and perhaps treating a variety of age‐related diseases and dehumanizing conditions. Melatonin has been effectively used to combat oxidative stress, inflammation and cellular apoptosis and to restore tissue function in a number of human trials; its efficacy supports its more extensive use in a wider variety of human studies. The uncommonly high‐safety profile of melatonin also bolsters this conclusion. It is the current feeling of the authors that, in view of the widely diverse beneficial functions that have been reported for melatonin, these may be merely epiphenomena of the more fundamental, yet‐to‐be identified basic action(s) of this ancient molecule.
Melatonin is remarkably functionally diverse with actions as a free radical scavenger and antioxidant, circadian rhythm regulator, anti‐inflammatory and immunoregulating molecule, and as an oncostatic agent. We hypothesize that the initial and primary function of melatonin in photosynthetic cyanobacteria, which appeared on Earth 3.5–3.2 billion years ago, was as an antioxidant. The evolution of melatonin as an antioxidant by this organism was necessary as photosynthesis is associated with the generation of toxic‐free radicals. The other secondary functions of melatonin came about much later in evolution. We also surmise that mitochondria and chloroplasts may be primary sites of melatonin synthesis in all eukaryotic cells that possess these organelles. This prediction is made on the basis that mitochondria and chloroplasts of eukaryotes developed from purple nonsulfur bacteria (which also produce melatonin) and cyanobacteria when they were engulfed by early eukaryotes. Thus, we speculate that the melatonin‐synthesizing actions of the engulfed bacteria were retained when these organelles became mitochondria and chloroplasts, respectively. That mitochondria are likely sites of melatonin formation is supported by the observation that this organelle contains high levels of melatonin that are not impacted by blood melatonin concentrations. Melatonin has a remarkable array of means by which it thwarts oxidative damage. It, as well as its metabolites, is differentially effective in scavenging a variety of reactive oxygen and reactive nitrogen species. Moreover, melatonin and its metabolites modulate a large number of antioxidative and pro‐oxidative enzymes, leading to a reduction in oxidative damage. The actions of melatonin on radical metabolizing/producing enzymes may be mediated by the Keap1‐Nrf2‐ARE pathway. Beyond its direct free radical scavenging and indirect antioxidant effects, melatonin has a variety of physiological and metabolic advantages that may enhance its ability to limit oxidative stress.
Melatonin (N‐acetyl‐5‐methoxytryptamine), an indoleamine produced in many organs including the pineal gland, was initially characterized as a hormone primarily involved in circadian regulation of physiological and neuroendocrine function. Subsequent studies found that melatonin and its metabolic derivatives possess strong free radical scavenging properties. These metabolites are potent antioxidants against both ROS (reactive oxygen species) and RNS (reactive nitrogen species). The mechanisms by which melatonin and its metabolites protect against free radicals and oxidative stress include direct scavenging of radicals and radical products, induction of the expression of antioxidant enzymes, reduction of the activation of pro‐oxidant enzymes, and maintenance of mitochondrial homeostasis. In both in vitro and in vivo studies, melatonin has been shown to reduce oxidative damage to lipids, proteins and DNA under a very wide set of conditions where toxic derivatives of oxygen are known to be produced. Although the vast majority of studies proved the antioxidant capacity of melatonin and its derivatives, a few studies using cultured cells found that melatonin promoted the generation of ROS at pharmacological concentrations (μm to mm range) in several tumor and nontumor cells; thus, melatonin functioned as a conditional pro‐oxidant. Mechanistically, melatonin may stimulate ROS production through its interaction with calmodulin. Also, melatonin may interact with mitochondrial complex III or mitochondrial transition pore to promote ROS production. Whether melatonin functions as a pro‐oxidant under in vivo conditions is not well documented; thus, whether the reported in vitro pro‐oxidant actions come into play in live organisms remains to be established.
The reactions of N1‐acetyl‐N2‐formyl‐5‐methoxykynuramine (AFMK) and N1‐acetyl‐5‐methoxykynuramine (AMK) with •OH, •OOH, and •OOCCl3 radicals have been studied using the density functional theory. Three mechanisms of reaction have been considered: radical adduct formation (RAF), hydrogen transfer (HT), and single electron transfer (SET). Their relative importance for the free radical scavenging activity of AFMK and AMK has been assessed. It was found that AFMK and AMK react with •OH at diffusion‐limited rates, regardless of the polarity of the environment, which supports their excellent •OH radical scavenging activity. Both compounds were found to be also very efficient for scavenging •OOCCl3, but rather ineffective for scavenging •OOH. Regarding their relative activity, it was found that AFMK systematically is a poorer scavenger than AMK and melatonin. In aqueous solution, AMK was found to react faster than melatonin with all the studied free radicals, while in nonpolar environments, the relative efficiency of AMK and melatonin as free radical scavengers depends on the radical with which they are reacting. Under such conditions, melatonin is predicted to be a better •OOH and •OOCCl3 scavenger than AMK, while AMK is predicted to be slightly better than melatonin for scavenging •OH. Accordingly it seems that melatonin and its metabolite AMK constitute an efficient team of scavengers able of deactivating a wide variety of reactive oxygen species, under different conditions. Thus, the presented results support the continuous protection exerted by melatonin, through the free radical scavenging cascade.
The number of studies on melatonin in plants has increased significantly in recent years. This molecule, with a large set of functions in animals, has also shown great potential in plant physiology. This review outlines the main functions of melatonin in the physiology of higher plants. Its role as antistress agent against abiotic stressors, such as drought, salinity, low and high ambient temperatures, UV radiation and toxic chemicals, is analyzed. The latest data on their role in plant–pathogen interactions are also discussed. Both abiotic and biotic stresses produce a significant increase in endogenous melatonin levels, indicating its possible role as effector in these situations. The existence of endogenous circadian rhythms in melatonin levels has been demonstrated in some species, and the data, although limited, suggest a central role of this molecule in the day/night cycles in plants. Finally, another aspect that has led to a large volume of research is the involvement of melatonin in aspects of plant development regulation. Although its role as a plant hormone is still far of from being fully established, its involvement in processes such as growth, rhizogenesis, and photosynthesis seems evident. The multiple changes in gene expression caused by melatonin point to its role as a multiregulatory molecule capable of coordinating many aspects of plant development. This last aspect, together with its role as an alleviating‐stressor agent, suggests that melatonin is an excellent prospect for crop improvement.
: Oxidative stress has been proven to be related to the onset of a large number of health disorders. This chemical stress is triggered by an excess of free radicals, which are generated in cells because of a wide variety of exogenous and endogenous processes. Therefore, finding strategies for efficiently detoxifying free radicals has become a subject of a great interest, from both an academic and practical points of view. Melatonin is a ubiquitous and versatile molecule that exhibits most of the desirable characteristics of a good antioxidant. The amount of data gathered so far regarding the protective action of melatonin against oxidative stress is overwhelming. However, rather little is known concerning the chemical mechanisms involved in this activity. This review summarizes the current progress in understanding the physicochemical insights related to the free radical–scavenging activity of melatonin. Thus far, there is a general agreement that electron transfer and hydrogen transfer are the main mechanisms involved in the reactions of melatonin with free radicals. However, the relative importance of other mechanisms is also analyzed. The chemical nature of the reacting free radical also has an influence on the relative importance of the different mechanisms of these reactions. Therefore, this point has also been discussed in detail in the current review. Based on the available data, it is concluded that melatonin efficiently protects against oxidative stress by a variety of mechanisms. Moreover, it is proposed that even though it has been referred to as the chemical expression of darkness, perhaps it could also be referred to as the chemical light of health.
Melatonin is a highly evolutionary conserved endogenous molecule that is mainly produced by the pineal gland, but also by other nonendocrine organs, of most mammals including man. In the recent years, a variety of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects have been observed when melatonin is applied exogenously under both in vivo and in vitro conditions. A number of studies suggest that this indole may exert its anti-inflammatory effects through the regulation of different molecular pathways. It has been documented that melatonin inhibits the expression of the isoforms of inducible nitric oxide synthase and cyclooxygenase and limits the production of excessive amounts of nitric oxide, prostanoids, and leukotrienes, as well as other mediators of the inflammatory process such as cytokines, chemokines, and adhesion molecules. Melatonin's anti-inflammatory effects are related to the modulation of a number of transcription factors such as nuclear factor kappa B, hypoxia-inducible factor, nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2, and others. Melatonin's effects on the DNA-binding capacity of transcription factors may be regulated through the inhibition of protein kinases involved in signal transduction, such as mitogen-activated protein kinases. This review summarizes recent research data focusing on the modulation of the expression of different inflammatory mediators by melatonin and the effects on cell signaling pathways responsible for the indole's anti-inflammatory activity. Although there are a numerous published reports that have analyzed melatonin's anti-inflammatory properties, further studies are necessary to elucidate its complex regulatory mechanisms in different cellular types and tissues.
The cardiac microvascular system, which is primarily composed of monolayer endothelial cells, is the site of blood supply and nutrient exchange to cardiomyocytes. However, microvascular ischemia/reperfusion injury (IRI) following percutaneous coronary intervention is a woefully neglected topic, and few strategies are available to reverse such pathologies. Here, we studied the effects of melatonin on microcirculation IRI and elucidated the underlying mechanism. Melatonin markedly reduced infarcted area, improved cardiac function, restored blood flow, and lower microcirculation perfusion defects. Histological analysis showed that cardiac microcirculation endothelial cells (CMEC) in melatonin‐treated mice had an unbroken endothelial barrier, increased endothelial nitric oxide synthase expression, unobstructed lumen, reduced inflammatory cell infiltration, and less endothelial damage. In contrast, AMP‐activated protein kinase α (AMPKα) deficiency abolished the beneficial effects of melatonin on microvasculature. In vitro, IRI activated dynamin‐related protein 1 (Drp1)‐dependent mitochondrial fission, which subsequently induced voltage‐dependent anion channel 1 (VDAC1) oligomerization, hexokinase 2 (HK2) liberation, mitochondrial permeability transition pore (mPTP) opening, PINK1/Parkin upregulation, and ultimately mitophagy‐mediated CMEC death. However, melatonin strengthened CMEC survival via activation of AMPKα, followed by p‐Drp1S616 downregulation and p‐Drp1S37 upregulation, which blunted Drp1‐dependent mitochondrial fission. Suppression of mitochondrial fission by melatonin recovered VDAC1‐HK2 interaction that prevented mPTP opening and PINK1/Parkin activation, eventually blocking mitophagy‐mediated cellular death. In summary, this study confirmed that melatonin protects cardiac microvasculature against IRI. The underlying mechanism may be attributed to the inhibitory effects of melatonin on mitochondrial fission‐VDAC1‐HK2‐mPTP‐mitophagy axis via activation of AMPKα.
Free radicals generated within subcellular compartments damage macromolecules which lead to severe structural changes and functional alterations of cellular organelles. A manifestation of free radical injury to biological membranes is the process of lipid peroxidation, an autooxidative chain reaction in which polyunsaturated fatty acids in the membrane are the substrate. There is considerable evidence that damage to polyunsaturated fatty acids tends to reduce membrane fluidity. However, adequate levels of fluidity are essential for the proper functioning of biological membranes. Thus, there is considerable interest in antioxidant molecules which are able to stabilize membranes because of their protective effects against lipid peroxidation. Melatonin is an indoleamine that modulates a wide variety of endocrine, neural and immune functions. Over the last two decades, intensive research has proven this molecule, as well as its metabolites, to possess substantial antioxidant activity. In addition to their ability to scavenge several reactive oxygen and nitrogen species, melatonin increases the activity of the glutathione redox enzymes, that is, glutathione peroxidase and reductase, as well as other antioxidant enzymes. These beneficial effects of melatonin are more significant because of its small molecular size and its amphipathic behaviour, which facilitates ease of melatonin penetration into every subcellular compartment. In the present work, we review the current information related to the beneficial effects of melatonin in maintaining the fluidity of biological membranes against free radical attack, and further, we discuss its implications for ageing and disease.
Melatonin is a naturally occurring molecule secreted by the pineal gland and known as a gatekeeper of circadian clocks. Mounting evidence indicates that melatonin, employing multiple and interrelated mechanisms, exhibits a variety of oncostatic properties in a myriad of tumors during different stages of their progression. Tumor metastasis, which commonly occurs at the late stage, is responsible for the majority of cancer deaths; metastases lead to the development of secondary tumors distant from a primary site. In reference to melatonin, the vast majority of investigations have focused on tumor development and progression at the primary site. Recently, however, interest has shifted toward the role of melatonin on tumor metastases. In this review, we highlight current advances in understanding the molecular mechanisms by which melatonin counteracts tumor metastases, including experimental and clinical observations; emphasis is placed on the impact of both cancer and non‐neoplastic cells within the tumor microenvironment. Due to the broad range of melatonin's actions, the mechanisms underlying its ability to interfere with metastases are numerous. These include modulation of cell–cell and cell–matrix interaction, extracellular matrix remodeling by matrix metalloproteinases, cytoskeleton reorganization, epithelial–mesenchymal transition, and angiogenesis. The evidence discussed herein will serve as a solid foundation for urging basic and clinical studies on the use of melatonin to understand and control metastatic diseases.
Mitochondria and chloroplasts are major sources of free radical generation in living organisms. Because of this, these organelles require strong protection from free radicals and associated oxidative stress. Melatonin is a potent free radical scavenger and antioxidant. It meets the criteria as a mitochondrial and chloroplast antioxidant. Evidence has emerged to show that both mitochondria and chloroplasts may have the capacity to synthesize and metabolize melatonin. The activity of arylalkylamine N‐acetyltransferase (AANAT), the reported rate‐limiting enzyme in melatonin synthesis, has been identified in mitochondria, and high levels of melatonin have also been found in this organelle. From an evolutionary point of view, the precursor of mitochondria probably is the purple nonsulfur bacterium, particularly, Rhodospirillum rubrum, and chloroplasts are probably the descendents of cyanobacteria. These bacterial species were endosymbionts of host proto‐eukaryotes and gradually transformed into cellular organelles, that is, mitochondria and chloroplasts, respectively, thereby giving rise to eukaryotic cells. Of special importance, both purple nonsulfur bacteria (R. rubrum) and cyanobacteria synthesize melatonin. The enzyme activities required for melatonin synthesis have also been detected in these primitive species. It is our hypothesis that mitochondria and chloroplasts are the original sites of melatonin synthesis in the early stage of endosymbiotic organisms; this synthetic capacity was carried into host eukaryotes by the above‐mentioned bacteria. Moreover, their melatonin biosynthetic capacities have been preserved during evolution. In most, if not in all cells, mitochondria and chloroplasts may continue to be the primary sites of melatonin generation. Melatonin production in other cellular compartments may have derived from mitochondria and chloroplasts. On the basis of this hypothesis, it is also possible to explain why plants typically have higher melatonin levels than do animals. In plants, both chloroplasts and mitochondria likely synthesize melatonin, while animal cells contain only mitochondria. The high levels of melatonin produced by mitochondria and chloroplasts are used to protect these important cellular organelles against oxidative stress and preserve their physiological functions. The superior beneficial effects of melatonin in both mitochondria and chloroplasts have been frequently reported.
Melatonin is an old and ubiquitous molecule in nature showing multiple mechanisms of action and functions in practically every living organism. In mammals, pineal melatonin functions as a hormone and a chronobiotic, playing a major role in the regulation of the circadian temporal internal order. The anti‐obesogen and the weight‐reducing effects of melatonin depend on several mechanisms and actions. Experimental evidence demonstrates that melatonin is necessary for the proper synthesis, secretion, and action of insulin. Melatonin acts by regulating GLUT4 expression and/or triggering, via its G‐protein‐coupled membrane receptors, the phosphorylation of the insulin receptor and its intracellular substrates mobilizing the insulin‐signaling pathway. Melatonin is a powerful chronobiotic being responsible, in part, by the daily distribution of metabolic processes so that the activity/feeding phase of the day is associated with high insulin sensitivity, and the rest/fasting is synchronized to the insulin‐resistant metabolic phase of the day. Furthermore, melatonin is responsible for the establishment of an adequate energy balance mainly by regulating energy flow to and from the stores and directly regulating the energy expenditure through the activation of brown adipose tissue and participating in the browning process of white adipose tissue. The reduction in melatonin production, as during aging, shift‐work or illuminated environments during the night, induces insulin resistance, glucose intolerance, sleep disturbance, and metabolic circadian disorganization characterizing a state of chronodisruption leading to obesity. The available evidence supports the suggestion that melatonin replacement therapy might contribute to restore a more healthy state of the organism.
Acute myocardial infarction (MI) is a major cause of mortality and disability worldwide. In patients with MI, the treatment option for reducing acute myocardial ischemic injury and limiting MI size is timely and effective myocardial reperfusion using either thombolytic therapy or primary percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). However, the procedure of reperfusion itself induces cardiomyocyte death, known as myocardial reperfusion injury, for which there is still no effective therapy. Recent evidence has depicted a promising role of melatonin, which possesses powerful antioxidative and anti‐inflammatory properties, in the prevention of ischemia‐reperfusion (IR) injury and the protection against cardiomyocyte death. A number of reports explored the mechanism of action behind melatonin‐induced beneficial effects against myocardial IR injury. In this review, we summarize the research progress related to IR injury and discuss the unique actions of melatonin as a protective agent. Furthermore, the possible mechanisms responsible for the myocardial benefits of melatonin against reperfusion injury are listed with the prospect of the use of melatonin in clinical application.
Melatonin is the major secretory product synthesized and secreted by the pineal gland and shows both a wide distribution within phylogenetically distant organisms from bacteria to humans and a great functional versatility. In recent years, a considerable amount of experimental evidence has accumulated showing a relationship between the nervous, endocrine, and immune systems. The molecular basis of the communication between these systems is the use of a common chemical language. In this framework, currently melatonin is considered one of the members of the neuroendocrine–immunological network. A number of in vivo and in vitro studies have documented that melatonin plays a fundamental role in neuroimmunomodulation. Based on the information published, it is clear that the majority of the present data in the literature relate to lymphocytes; thus, they have been rather thoroughly investigated, and several reviews have been published related to the mechanisms of action and the effects of melatonin on lymphocytes. However, few studies concerning the effects of melatonin on cells belonging to the innate immunity have been reported. Innate immunity provides the early line of defense against microbes and consists of both cellular and biochemical mechanisms. In this review, we have focused on the role of melatonin in the innate immunity. More specifically, we summarize the effects and action mechanisms of melatonin in the different cells that belong to or participate in the innate immunity, such as monocytes–macrophages, dendritic cells, neutrophils, eosinophils, basophils, mast cells, and natural killer cells.
Platelet activation is a major (patho‐) physiological mechanism that underlies ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury. In this study, we explored the molecular signals for platelet hyperactivity and investigated the beneficial effects of melatonin on platelet reactivity in response to I/R injury. After reperfusion, peroxisome proliferator‐activated receptor γ (PPARγ) was progressively downregulated in patients with acute myocardial infarction undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) surgery and in mice with I/R injury model. Loss of PPARγ was closely associated with FUN14 domain containing 1 (FUNDC1) dephosphorylation and mitophagy activation, leading to increased mitochondrial electron transport chain complex (ETC.) activity, enhanced mitochondrial respiratory function, and elevated ATP production. The improved mitochondrial function strongly contributed to platelet aggregation, spreading, expression of P‐selectin, and final formation of micro‐thromboses, eventually resulting in myocardial dysfunction and microvascular structural destruction. However, melatonin powerfully suppressed platelet activation via restoration of the PPARγ content in platelets, which subsequently blocked FUNDC1‐required mitophagy, mitochondrial energy production, platelet hyperactivity, and cardiac I/R injury. In contrast, genetic ablation of PPARγ in platelet abolished the beneficial effects of melatonin on mitophagy, mitochondrial ATP supply, and platelet activation. Our results lay the foundation for the molecular mechanism of platelet activation in response to I/R injury and highlight that the manipulation of the PPARγ/FUNDC1/mitophagy pathway by melatonin could be a novel strategy for cardioprotection in the setting of cardiac I/R injury.
: We studied the subcellular levels of melatonin in cerebral cortex and liver of rats under several conditions. The results show that melatonin levels in the cell membrane, cytosol, nucleus, and mitochondrion vary over a 24‐hr cycle, although these variations do not exhibit circadian rhythms. The cell membrane has the highest concentration of melatonin followed by mitochondria, nucleus, and cytosol. Pinealectomy significantly increased the content of melatonin in all subcellular compartments, whereas luzindole treatment had little effect on melatonin levels. Administration of 10 mg/kg bw melatonin to sham‐pinealectomized, pinealectomized, or continuous light‐exposed rats increased the content of melatonin in all subcellular compartments. Melatonin in doses ranging from 40 to 200 mg/kg bw increased in a dose‐dependent manner the accumulation of melatonin on cell membrane and cytosol, although the accumulations were 10 times greater in the former than in the latter. Melatonin levels in the nucleus and mitochondria reached saturation with a dose of 40 mg/kg bw; higher doses of injected melatonin did not further cause additional accumulation of melatonin in these organelles. The results suggest some control of extrapineal accumulation or extrapineal production of melatonin and support the existence of regulatory mechanisms in cellular organelles, which prevent the intracellular equilibration of the indolamine. Seemingly, different concentrations of melatonin can be maintained in different subcellular compartments. The data also seem to support a requirement of high doses of melatonin to obtain therapeutic effects. Together, these results add information that assists in explaining the physiology and pharmacology of melatonin.
: Evidence is accumulating regarding the importance of circadian core oscillators, several associated factors, and melatonin signaling in the maintenance of health. Dysfunction of endogenous clocks, melatonin receptor polymorphisms, age‐ and disease‐associated declines of melatonin likely contribute to numerous diseases including cancer, metabolic syndrome, diabetes type 2, hypertension, and several mood and cognitive disorders. Consequences of gene silencing, overexpression, gene polymorphisms, and deviant expression levels in diseases are summarized. The circadian system is a complex network of central and peripheral oscillators, some of them being relatively independent of the pacemaker, the suprachiasmatic nucleus. Actions of melatonin on peripheral oscillators are poorly understood. Various lines of evidence indicate that these clocks are also influenced or phase‐reset by melatonin. This includes phase differences of core oscillator gene expression under impaired melatonin signaling, effects of melatonin and melatonin receptor knockouts on oscillator mRNAs or proteins. Cross‐connections between melatonin signaling pathways and oscillator proteins, including associated factors, are discussed in this review. The high complexity of the multioscillator system comprises alternate or parallel oscillators based on orthologs and paralogs of the core components and a high number of associated factors with varying tissue‐specific importance, which offers numerous possibilities for interactions with melatonin. It is an aim of this review to stimulate research on melatonin signaling in peripheral tissues. This should not be restricted to primary signal molecules but rather include various secondarily connected pathways and discriminate between direct effects of the pineal indoleamine at the target organ and others mediated by modulation of oscillators.
Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is a dynamic organelle that participates in a number of cellular functions by controlling lipid metabolism, calcium stores, and proteostasis. Under stressful situations, the ER environment is compromised, and protein maturation is impaired; this causes misfolded proteins to accumulate and a characteristic stress response named unfolded protein response (UPR). UPR protects cells from stress and contributes to cellular homeostasis re‐establishment; however, during prolonged ER stress, UPR activation promotes cell death. ER stressors can modulate autophagy which in turn, depending of the situation, induces cell survival or death. Interactions of different autophagy‐ and apoptosis‐related proteins and also common signaling pathways have been found, suggesting an interplay between these cellular processes, although their dynamic features are still unknown. A number of pathologies including metabolic, neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases, cancer, inflammation, and viral infections are associated with ER stress, leading to a growing interest in targeting components of the UPR as a therapeutic strategy. Melatonin has a variety of antioxidant, anti‐inflammatory, and antitumor effects. As such, it modulates apoptosis and autophagy in cancer cells, neurodegeneration and the development of liver diseases as well as other pathologies. Here, we review the effects of melatonin on the main ER stress mechanisms, focusing on its ability to regulate the autophagic and apoptotic processes. As the number of studies that have analyzed ER stress modulation by this indole remains limited, further research is necessary for a better understanding of the crosstalk between ER stress, autophagy, and apoptosis and to clearly delineate the mechanisms by which melatonin modulates these responses.
Mitochondrial dysfunction has been implicated in the pathogenesis of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) through poorly defined mechanisms. Melatonin supplementation has been found to protect liver function in diabetes and obesity. Here, we intensively explored the role and mechanism of melatonin in the development of NAFLD. We demonstrated that the onset of diet‐induced NAFLD greatly caused NR4A1 upregulation in hepatocytes, leading to the activation of DNA‐PKcs and p53. On the one hand, p53 aided Drp1 migration in the mitochondria and consequently drove mitochondrial fission. On the other hand, p53 repressed Bnip3 transcription and expression, resulting in mitophagy arrest. The excessive fission and deficient mitophagy dramatically mediated mitochondrial dysfunction, including extensive mPTP opening, reduction in mitochondrial potential, oxidative stress, calcium overload, mitochondrial respiratory collapse, and ATP shortage. However, genetic deletion of NR4A1 or DNA‐PKcs could definitively reverse NAFLD progression and the mitochondrial dysfunction. Similarly, melatonin supplementation could robustly reduce the damage to liver and mitochondrial structure and function in NAFLD. Mechanistically, melatonin halted fission but recovered mitophagy via blockade of NR4A1/DNA‐PKcs/p53 pathway, finally improving mitochondrial and liver function in the setting of NAFLD. Our results identify NR4A1/DNA‐PKcs/p53 pathway as the novel molecular mechanism underlying the pathogenesis of NAFLD via regulation of Drp1‐mediated mitochondrial fission and Bnip3‐related mitophagy. Meanwhile, we also confirm that melatonin has the ability to cut off the NR4A1/DNA‐PKcs/p53 pathway, which confers a protective advantage to hepatocytes and mitochondria. The manipulation of NR4A1/DNA‐PKcs/p53 pathway by melatonin highlights a new entry point for treating NAFLD.
: A comprehensive investigation was carried out to determine the changes that occurred in water‐stressed cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) in response to melatonin treatment. We examined the potential roles of melatonin during seed germination and root generation and measured its effect on reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels, antioxidant enzyme activities, and photosynthesis. Melatonin alleviated polyethylene glycol induced inhibition of seed germination, with 100 μm melatonin‐treated seeds showing the greatest germination rate. Melatonin stimulated root generation and vitality and increased the root:shoot ratio; therefore, melatonin may have an effect on strengthening cucumber roots. Melatonin treatment significantly reduced chlorophyll degradation. Seedlings treated with 100 μm melatonin clearly showed a higher photosynthetic rate, thus reversing the effect of water stress. Furthermore, the ultrastructure of chloroplasts in water‐stressed cucumber leaves was maintained after melatonin treatment. The antioxidant levels and activities of the ROS scavenging enzymes, i.e., superoxide dismutase, peroxidase, and catalase, were also increased by melatonin. These results suggest that the adverse effects of water stress can be minimized by the application of melatonin.