, Volume 27, Issue 2, pp 137–147 | Cite as

On the role of melatonin in skin physiology and pathology

  • Andrzej SlominskiEmail author
  • Tobias W. Fischer
  • Michal A. Zmijewski
  • Jacobo Wortsman
  • Igor Semak
  • Blazaj Zbytek
  • Radomir M. Slominski
  • Desmond J. Tobin


Melatonin has been experimentally implicated in skin functions such as hair growth cycling, fur pigmentation, and melanoma control, and melatonin receptors are expressed in several skin cells including normal and malignant keratinocytes, melanocytes, and fibroblasts. Melatonin is also able to suppress ultraviolet (U)-induced damage to skin cells and shows strong antioxidant activity in Uexposed cells. Moreover, we recently uncovered expression in the skin of the biochemical machinery involved in the sequential transformation of l-tryptophan to serotonin and melatonin. Existence of the biosynthetic pathway was confirmed by detection of the corresponding genes and proteins with actual demonstration of enzymatic activities for tryptophan hydroxylase, serotonin N-acetyl-transferase, and hydroxyindole-O-methyltransferase in extracts from skin and skin cells. Initial evidence for in vivo synthesis of melatonin and its metabolism was obtained in hamster skin organ culture and in one melanoma line. Therefore, we propose that melatonin (synthesized locally or delivered topically)could counteract or buffer external (environmental)or internal stresses to preserve the biological integrity of the organ and to maintain its homeostasis. Furthermore, melatonin could have a role in protection against solar radiation or even in the management of skin diseases.

Key Words

Skin melatonin serotonin N-acetylserotonin ultraviolet radiation 


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Copyright information

© Humana Press Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrzej Slominski
    • 1
    Email author
  • Tobias W. Fischer
    • 1
    • 2
  • Michal A. Zmijewski
    • 1
  • Jacobo Wortsman
    • 3
  • Igor Semak
    • 4
  • Blazaj Zbytek
    • 1
    • 5
  • Radomir M. Slominski
    • 1
  • Desmond J. Tobin
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of Pathology and Laboratory MedicineUniversity of Tennessee Health Science CenterMemphis
  2. 2.Department of Dermatology and AllergologyFriedrich-Schiller-UniversityJenaGermany
  3. 3.Department of MedicineSouthern Illinois UniversitySpringfield
  4. 4.Department of BiochemistryBelars State UniversityMinskBelarus
  5. 5.Department of Histology and ImmunologyMedical University of GdanskGdanskPoland
  6. 6.Department of Biomedical SciencesUniversity of BradfordBradfordEngland

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