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1.  Melatonin in Antinociception: Its Therapeutic Applications 
Current Neuropharmacology  2012;10(2):167-178.
The intensity of pain sensation exhibits marked day and night variations. Since the intensity of pain perception is low during dark hours of the night when melatonin levels are high, this hormone has been implicated as one of the prime antinociceptive substances. A number of studies have examined the antinociceptive role of melatonin in acute, inflammatory and neuropathic pain animal models. It has been demonstrated that melatonin exerts antinociceptive actions by acting at both spinal cord and supraspinal levels. The mechanism of antinociceptive actions of melatonin involves opioid, benzodiazepine, α1- and α2-adrenergic, serotonergic and cholinergic receptors. Most importantly however, the involvement of MT1/MT2 melatonergic receptors in the spinal cord has been well documented as an antinociceptive mechanism in a number of animal models of pain perception. Exogenous melatonin has been used effectively in the management of pain in medical conditions such as fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome and migraine and cluster headache. Melatonin has been tried during surgical operating conditions and has been shown to enhance both preoperative and post-operative analgesia. The present review discusses the available evidence indicating that melatonin, acting through MT1/MT2 melatonin receptors, plays an important role in the pathophysiological mechanism of pain.
doi:10.2174/157015912800604489
PMCID: PMC3386506  PMID: 23204986
Pain; nociception; analgesia; melatonin; inflammatory; neuropathic; fibromyalgia; cluster headache; migraine.
2.  Therapeutic potential of melatonin and its analogs in Parkinson’s disease: focus on sleep and neuroprotection 
Sleep disorders constitute major nonmotor features of Parkinson’s disease (PD) that have a substantial effect on patients’ quality of life and can be related to the progression of the neurodegenerative disease. They can also serve as preclinical markers for PD, as it is the case for rapid eye movement (REM)-associated sleep behavior disorder (RBD). Although the etiology of sleep disorders in PD remains undefined, the assessment of the components of the circadian system, including melatonin secretion, could give therapeutically valuable insight on their pathophysiopathology. Melatonin is a regulator of the sleep/wake cycle and also acts as an effective antioxidant and mitochondrial function protector. A reduction in the expression of melatonin MT1 and MT2 receptors has been documented in the substantia nigra of PD patients. The efficacy of melatonin for preventing neuronal cell death and for ameliorating PD symptoms has been demonstrated in animal models of PD employing neurotoxins. A small number of controlled trials indicate that melatonin is useful in treating disturbed sleep in PD, in particular RBD. Whether melatonin and the recently developed melatonergic agents (ramelteon, tasimelteon, agomelatine) have therapeutic potential in PD is also discussed.
doi:10.1177/1756285611406166
PMCID: PMC3187674  PMID: 22010042
agomelatine; insomnia; light therapy; melatonin; oxidative stress; Parkinson’s disease; ramelteon; REM sleep behavior disorder; tasimelteon
3.  Melatonin in Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Related Disorders 
Mitochondrial dysfunction is considered one of the major causative factors in the aging process, ischemia/reperfusion (I/R), septic shock, and neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson's disease (PD), Alzheimer's disease (AD), and Huntington's disease (HD). Increased free radical generation, enhanced mitochondrial inducible nitric oxide (NO) synthase activity, enhanced NO production, decreased respiratory complex activity, impaired electron transport system, and opening of mitochondrial permeability transition pore all have been suggested as factors responsible for impaired mitochondrial function. Melatonin, the major hormone of the pineal gland, also acts as an antioxidant and as a regulator of mitochondrial bioenergetic function. Both in vitro and in vivo, melatonin was effective for preventing oxidative stress/nitrosative stress-induced mitochondrial dysfunction seen in experimental models of PD, AD, and HD. In addition, melatonin is known to retard aging and to inhibit the lethal effects of septic shock or I/R lesions by maintaining respiratory complex activities, electron transport chain, and ATP production in mitochondria. Melatonin is selectively taken up by mitochondrial membranes, a function not shared by other antioxidants. Melatonin has thus emerged as a major potential therapeutic tool for treating neurodegenerative disorders such as PD or AD, and for preventing the lethal effects of septic shock or I/R.
doi:10.4061/2011/326320
PMCID: PMC3100547  PMID: 21629741
4.  Pharmacotherapy of Insomnia with Ramelteon: Safety, Efficacy and Clinical Applications 
Ramelteon is a tricyclic synthetic analog of melatonin that acts specifically on MT1 and MT2 melatonin receptors. Ramelteon is the first melatonin receptor agonist approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of insomnia characterized by sleep onset difficulties. Ramelteon is both a chronobiotic and a hypnotic that has been shown to promote sleep initiation and maintenance in various preclinical and in clinical trials. The efficacy and safety of ramelteon in patients with chronic insomnia was initially confirmed in short-term placebo-controlled trials. These showed little evidence of next-day residual effects, withdrawal symptoms or rebound insomnia. Other studies indicated that ramelteon lacked abuse potential and had a minimal risk of producing dependence or adverse effects on cognitive or psychomotor performance. A 6-month placebo-controlled international study and a 1-year open-label study in the USA demonstrated that ramelteon was effective and well tolerated. Other potential off-label uses of ramelteon include circadian rhythm sleep disorders such as shift-work and jet lag. At the present time the drug should be cautiously prescribed for short-term treatment only.
doi:10.4137/JCNSD.S1611
PMCID: PMC3663615  PMID: 23861638
circadian rhythms; hypnotic; insomnia; melatonin; ramelteon; sleep
5.  Melatonin and Its Agonist Ramelteon in Alzheimer's Disease: Possible Therapeutic Value 
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is an age-associated neurodegenerative disease characterized by the progressive loss of cognitive function, loss of memory and insomnia, and abnormal behavioral signs and symptoms. Among the various theories that have been put forth to explain the pathophysiology of AD, the oxidative stress induced by amyloid β-protein (Aβ) deposition has received great attention. Studies undertaken on postmortem brain samples of AD patients have consistently shown extensive lipid, protein, and DNA oxidation. Presence of abnormal tau protein, mitochondrial dysfunction, and protein hyperphosphorylation all have been demonstrated in neural tissues of AD patients. Moreover, AD patients exhibit severe sleep/wake disturbances and insomnia and these are associated with more rapid cognitive decline and memory impairment. On this basis, the successful management of AD patients requires an ideal drug that besides antagonizing Aβ-induced neurotoxicity could also correct the disturbed sleep-wake rhythm and improve sleep quality. Melatonin is an effective chronobiotic agent and has significant neuroprotective properties preventing Aβ-induced neurotoxic effects in a number of animal experimental models. Since melatonin levels in AD patients are greatly reduced, melatonin replacement has the potential value to be used as a therapeutic agent for treating AD, particularly at the early phases of the disease and especially in those in whom the relevant melatonin receptors are intact. As sleep deprivation has been shown to produce oxidative damage, impaired mitochondrial function, neurodegenerative inflammation, and altered proteosomal processing with abnormal activation of enzymes, treatment of sleep disturbances may be a priority for arresting the progression of AD. In this context the newly introduced melatonin agonist ramelteon can be of much therapeutic value because of its highly selective action on melatonin MT1/MT2 receptors in promoting sleep.
doi:10.4061/2011/741974
PMCID: PMC3004402  PMID: 21197086

Results 1-5 (5)