Oxidative stress of the newborn in the pre- and postnatal period and the clinical utility of melatonin
Article first published online: 24 NOV 2008
© 2008 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2008 Blackwell Munksgaard
Journal of Pineal Research
Volume 46, Issue 2, pages 128–139, March 2009
How to Cite
Gitto, E., Pellegrino, S., Gitto, P., Barberi, I. and Reiter, R. J. (2009), Oxidative stress of the newborn in the pre- and postnatal period and the clinical utility of melatonin. Journal of Pineal Research, 46: 128–139. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-079X.2008.00649.x
- Issue published online: 29 JAN 2009
- Article first published online: 24 NOV 2008
- Received October 6, 2008; accepted October 21, 2008.
- free radicals;
- oxidative stress;
Abstract: Newborns, and especially those delivered preterm, are probably more prone to oxidative stress than individuals later in life. Also during pregnancy, increased oxygen demand augments the rate of production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and women, even with normal pregnancies, experience elevated oxidative stress and lipid peroxidation compared with nonpregnant women. Also, there appears to be an increase in ROS generation in the placenta of pre-eclamptic women. In comparison with healthy adults, newborn infants have lower levels of plasma antioxidants such as vitamin E, β-carotene, and sulphydryl groups, lower levels of plasma metal binding proteins including ceruloplasmin and transferrin, and reduced activity of erythrocyte superoxide dismutase. This review summarizes conditions of newborns where there is elevated oxidative stress. Included in this group of conditions is asphyxia, respiratory distress syndrome and sepsis and the review also summarizes the literature related to clinical trials of antioxidant therapies and of melatonin, a highly effective antioxidant and free radical scavenger. The authors document there is general agreement that short-term melatonin therapy may be highly effective and that it has a remarkably benign safety profile, even when neonates are treated with pharmacological doses. Significant complications with long-term melatonin therapy in children and adults also have not been reported. None of the animal studies of maternal melatonin treatment or in postnatal life have shown any treatment-related side effects. The authors conclude that treatment with melatonin might result in a wide range of health benefits, improved quality of life and reduced healthcare costs and may help reduce complications in the neonatal period.