Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences

, Volume 74, Issue 21, pp 3913–3925 | Cite as

Melatonin, mitochondria, and the skin

  • Andrzej T. SlominskiEmail author
  • Michal A. Zmijewski
  • Igor Semak
  • Tae-Kang Kim
  • Zorica Janjetovic
  • Radomir M. Slominski
  • Jaroslaw W. Zmijewski
Multi-author review


The skin being a protective barrier between external and internal (body) environments has the sensory and adaptive capacity to maintain local and global body homeostasis in response to noxious factors. An important part of the skin response to stress is its ability for melatonin synthesis and subsequent metabolism through the indolic and kynuric pathways. Indeed, melatonin and its metabolites have emerged as indispensable for physiological skin functions and for effective protection of a cutaneous homeostasis from hostile environmental factors. Moreover, they attenuate the pathological processes including carcinogenesis and other hyperproliferative/inflammatory conditions. Interestingly, mitochondria appear to be a central hub of melatonin metabolism in the skin cells. Furthermore, substantial evidence has accumulated on the protective role of the melatonin against ultraviolet radiation and the attendant mitochondrial dysfunction. Melatonin and its metabolites appear to have a modulatory impact on mitochondrion redox and bioenergetic homeostasis, as well as the anti-apoptotic effects. Of note, some metabolites exhibit even greater impact than melatonin alone. Herein, we emphasize that melatonin–mitochondria axis would control integumental functions designed to protect local and perhaps global homeostasis. Given the phylogenetic origin and primordial actions of melatonin, we propose that the melatonin-related mitochondrial functions represent an evolutionary conserved mechanism involved in cellular adaptive response to skin injury and repair.


Melatonin Skin Mitochondria Photoprotection Homeostasis 



The work was supported by NIH Grants 1R01AR056666-01A2 and 1R01AR071189-01A1 to AS. This paper is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Aaron B. Lerner who trained one of the co-authors (AS).


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrzej T. Slominski
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Michal A. Zmijewski
    • 3
  • Igor Semak
    • 4
  • Tae-Kang Kim
    • 1
  • Zorica Janjetovic
    • 1
  • Radomir M. Slominski
    • 5
  • Jaroslaw W. Zmijewski
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of Dermatology, Comprehensive Cancer Center Cancer Chemoprevention ProgramUniversity of Alabama at BirminghamBirminghamUSA
  2. 2.VA Medical CenterBirminghamUSA
  3. 3.Department of HistologyMedical University of GdańskGdańskPoland
  4. 4.Department of BiochemistryBelarusian State UniversityMinskBelarus
  5. 5.Department of MedicineUniversity of Tennessee Health Science CenterMemphisUSA
  6. 6.Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care MedicineUniversity of Alabama at BirminghamBirminghamUSA

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