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      Melatonin and Immunomodulation: Connections and Potential Clinical Applications

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          Melatonin is the main hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the human brain. It has a strong impact on the sleep-wake cycle and is considered a general modulator of the human circadian rhythm. Apart from these well-established properties, melatonin possesses immunomodulatory, antioxidative and antiinflammatory properties. The potential ability of this hormone to act synergistically with several cytokines by enhancing their antitumoral activity and dramatically decreasing their adverse effects has placed melatonin among the new and promising agents in cancer immunotherapy. The use of the neurohormone alone or in combination with cytokines and traditional chemotherapeutic drugs is currently under vigorous investigation. Experimental and clinical trials have already depicted some of the immunomodulatory and antitumor effects of melatonin, delineating the need for further research in this field.

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          Most cited references 55

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          Melatonin as a chronobiotic.

          Melatonin, hormone of the pineal gland, is concerned with biological timing. It is secreted at night in all species and in ourselves is thereby associated with sleep, lowered core body temperature, and other night time events. The period of melatonin secretion has been described as 'biological night'. Its main function in mammals is to 'transduce' information about the length of the night, for the organisation of daylength dependent changes, such as reproductive competence. Exogenous melatonin has acute sleepiness-inducing and temperature-lowering effects during 'biological daytime', and when suitably timed (it is most effective around dusk and dawn) it will shift the phase of the human circadian clock (sleep, endogenous melatonin, core body temperature, cortisol) to earlier (advance phase shift) or later (delay phase shift) times. The shifts induced are sufficient to synchronise to 24 h most blind subjects suffering from non-24 h sleep-wake disorder, with consequent benefits for sleep. Successful use of melatonin's chronobiotic properties has been reported in other sleep disorders associated with abnormal timing of the circadian system: jetlag, shiftwork, delayed sleep phase syndrome, some sleep problems of the elderly. No long-term safety data exist, and the optimum dose and formulation for any application remains to be clarified.
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            Effects of melatonin treatment in septic newborns.

             E Gitto,  D Tan,  S Cordaro (2001)
            Free radicals have been implicated in the pathogenesis of neonatal sepsis and its complications. This study was conducted to determine the changes in the clinical status and the serum levels of lipid peroxidation products [malondialdehyde (MDA) and 4-hydroxylalkenals (4-HDA)] in 10 septic newborns treated with the antioxidant melatonin given within the first 12 h after diagnosis. Ten other septic newborns in a comparable state were used as "septic" controls, while 10 healthy newborns served as normal controls. A total of 20 mg melatonin was administered orally in two doses of 10 mg each, with a 1-h interval. One blood sample was collected before melatonin administration and two additional blood samples (at 1 and 4 h) were collected after melatonin administration to assess serum levels of lipid peroxidation products. Serum MDA + 4-HDA concentrations in newborns with sepsis were significantly higher than those in healthy infants without sepsis; in contrast, in septic newborns treated with melatonin there was a significant reduction (p < 0.05) of MDA + 4-HDA to the levels in the normal controls at both 1 and 4 h (p < 0.05). Melatonin also improved the clinical outcome of the septic newborns as judged by measurement of sepsis-related serum parameters after 24 and 48 h. Three of 10 septic children who were not treated with melatonin died within 72 h after diagnosis of sepsis; none of the 10 septic newborns treated with melatonin died. To our knowledge, this is the first study where melatonin was given to human newborns.
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              Actions of melatonin in the reduction of oxidative stress: A review


                Author and article information

                S. Karger AG
                February 2007
                09 February 2007
                : 13
                : 3
                : 133-144
                aFirst Department of Pediatrics, Athens University Medical School, and Departments of bPediatric Hematology-Oncology, and cClinical Biochemistry, ‘Aghia Sophia’ Children’s Hospital, Athens, Greece
                97258 Neuroimmunomodulation 2006;13:63–74
                © 2006 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Page count
                Figures: 3, References: 97, Pages: 12


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