Melatonin: new applications in clinical and veterinary medicine, plant physiology and industry.

: Novel functions of melatonin continue to be uncovered. Those summarized in this report include actions at the level of the peripheral reproductive organs and include functions as an antioxidant to protect the maturing oocyte in the vesicular follicle and during ovulation, melatonin actions on the developing fetus particularly in relation to organizing the circadian system, its potential utility in combating the consequences of pre-eclampsia, reducing intrauterine growth restriction, suppressing endometriotic growths and improving the outcomes of in vitro fertilization/embryo transfer. The inhibitory effects of melatonin on many cancer types have been known for decades. Until recently, however, melatonin had not been tested as a protective agent against exocrine pancreatic tumors. This cancer type is highly aggressive and 5 year survival rate in individuals with pancreatic cancer is very low. Recent studies with melatonin indicate it may have utility in the treatment of these otherwise almost untreatable pancreatic cancers. The discovery of melatonin in plants has also opened a vast new field of research which is rapidly being exploited although the specific functions(s) of melatonin in plant organs remains enigmatic. Finally, the described application of melatonin's use as a chemical reductant in industry could well serve as a stimulus to further define the utility of this versatile molecule in new industrial applications.

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