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The chemistry of melatonin's interaction with reactive species


Address reprint requests to Russel J. Reiter, Department of Cellular & Structural Biology, University of Texas Health Science Center, 7703 Floyd Curl Drive – MC 7762, San Antonio, TX 78229-3900, USA. E-mail:


Abstract: Melatonin has been shown to be an effective antioxidant in a number of experimental models both in vitro and in vivo. Considering the data available, it is now clear that the indoleamine is involved in antioxidative mechanisms more complex than originally envisaged. These range from the direct radical scavenging of a variety of radicals and reactive species to the control and/or modulation of a number of processes which may trigger a redox imbalance between antioxidant and prooxidant species. This review focuses on the direct radical scavenging activity of melatonin and provides a summary of the mechanisms of the reactions between the indoleamine and reactive species in pure chemical solutions. These actions likely account for at least some of the protective actions of melatonin under conditions of high oxidative stress.

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