Melatonin and Immune Function: Clinical Significance

  • Mahaneem MohamedEmail author
  • Venkataramanujam Srinivasan
  • Georges Maestroni
  • Ruth E. Rosenstein
  • Sukru Oter


The immune system of the body plays an important role in fighting against cancer and infectious diseases. The decreased immune function has been primarily attributed to the increased incidence of neoplastic and infectious diseases in the elderly. Alteration in circadian rhythmicity of various subsets of lymphocyte population in cancer patients suggests impaired integration of nervous, endocrine, and immune responses in neoplastic disease. The photoperiodic regulation of immune function with enhancement during short photoperiods and inhibition during long photoperiods is supported by the seasonal outbreak of some infectious diseases. The pineal biomolecule melatonin could be a very useful resource for inhibiting neoplastic growth as its immunomodulatory role may stimulate several immune mechanisms. Melatonin stimulates natural killer cells which are known to attack and destroy cancerous cells. It also influences T-helper 1 cells, B lymphocytes, and release of cytokines from immunoregulatory cells. The immunomodulatory role for melatonin and its application in the control of infectious and neoplastic diseases is supported by the synthesis of melatonin by lymphocytes and thymus.


Melatonin Immune mechanism Lymphocytes Innate immunity Adaptive immunity Cancer Infectious diseases 





Chemokine ligand




Cerebrospinal fluid


Dental pulp stem cells


Growth hormone




Human embryonic stem cells


Human immunodeficiency virus


Human leukocyte antigen


Human mesenchymal stem cells








Macrophage colony-stimulating factor


Nuclear factor kappa B


Natural killer


Nuclear receptor subfamily 1 group F, member 1


Superoxide anion (radical)


Oral squamous carcinoma stem cells


Retinoic acid receptor


RAR-related orphan receptor-α


Stem cell factor


T-cell receptor


Transforming (or tumor) growth factor


Tumor necrosis factor-α


Thyroid-stimulating hormone


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Copyright information

© Springer India 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mahaneem Mohamed
    • 1
    Email author
  • Venkataramanujam Srinivasan
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Georges Maestroni
    • 5
  • Ruth E. Rosenstein
    • 6
  • Sukru Oter
    • 7
  1. 1.Department of PhysiologySchool of Medical Sciences, Universiti Sains MalaysiaKubang KerianMalaysia
  2. 2.Sri Sathya Sai Medical Educational and Research Foundation, An International Medical Sciences Research Study CenterCoimbatoreIndia
  3. 3.National Health Service, Department of Mental Health, Psychiatric Service of Diagnosis and TreatmentHospital “G. Mazzini”TeramoItaly
  4. 4.Department of Neuroscience and ImagingUniversity “G.D’ Annunzio”ChietiItaly
  5. 5.Department of PharmacologyUniversity of Insubria, Medical SchoolVareseItaly
  6. 6.Department of Human BiochemistrySchool of Medicine/CEFyBO, University of Buenos Aires/CONICETBuenos AiresArgentina
  7. 7.Department of PhysiologyGulhane Military Medical AcademyAnkaraTurkey

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