Melatonin in Humans


Amnon Brzezinski



The New England Journal of Medicine, 1997, 336 No 3



Three centuries ago, the French philosopher René Descartes described the pineal gland as “the seat of the soul,” but it was not until the late 1950s that melatonin, the principal substance secreted by the pineal gland, was identified. There is now evidence that melatonin may have a role in the biologic regulation of circadian rhythms, sleep, mood, and perhaps reproduction, tumor growth, and aging. However, uncertainties and doubts still surround the role of melatonin in human physiology and pathophysiology. This review summarizes current knowledge about melatonin in humans and its clinical implications.




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