, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 261-270
Date: 13 Nov 2009

Role of melatonin in metabolic regulation

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Abstract

Although the human genome has remained unchanged over the last 10,000 years, our lifestyle has become progressively more divergent from those of our ancient ancestors. This maladaptive change became apparent with the Industrial Revolution and has been accelerating in recent decades. Socially, we are people of the 21st century, but genetically we remain similar to our early ancestors. In conjunction with this discordance between our ancient, genetically-determined biology and the nutritional, cultural and activity patterns in contemporary Western populations, many diseases have emerged. Only a century ago infectious disease was a major cause of mortality, whereas today non-infectious chronic diseases are the greatest cause of death in the world. Epidemics of metabolic diseases (e.g., cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome and certain cancers) have become major contributors to the burden of poor health and they are presently emerging or accelerating, in most developing countries. One major lifestyle consequence is light at night and subsequent disrupted circadian rhythms commonly referred to as circadian disruption or chronodisruption. Mounting evidence reveals that particularly melatonin rhythmicity has crucial roles in a variety of metabolic functions as an anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory chronobiotic and possibly as an epigenetic regulator. This paper provides a brief outline about metabolic dysregulation in conjunction with a disrupted melatonin rhythm.