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Therapeutic potential of melatonin in traumatic central nervous system injury

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Abstract: 

A vast literature extolling the benefits of melatonin has accumulated during the past four decades. Melatonin was previously considered of importance to seasonal reproduction and circadian rhythmicity. Currently, it appears to be a versatile anti-oxidative and anti-nitrosative agent, a molecule with immunomodulatory actions and profound oncostatic activity, and also to play a role as a potent neuroprotectant. Nowadays, melatonin is sold as a dietary supplement with differential availability as an over-the-counter aid in different countries. There is a widespread agreement that melatonin is nontoxic and safe considering its frequent, long-term usage by humans at both physiological and pharmacological doses with no reported side effects. Endeavors toward a designated drug status for melatonin may be enormously rewarding in clinics for treatment of several forms of neurotrauma where effective pharmacological intervention has not yet been attained. This mini review consolidates the data regarding the efficacy of melatonin as an unique neuroprotective agent in traumatic central nervous system (CNS) injuries. Well-documented actions of melatonin in combating traumatic CNS damage are compiled from various clinical and experimental studies. Research on traumatic brain injury and ischemia/reperfusion are briefly outlined here as they have been recently reviewed elsewhere, whereas the studies on different animal models of the experimental spinal cord injury have been extensively covered in this mini review for the first time.
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Keywords: calpain; melatonin; melatonin receptors; neurodegeneration; spinal cord injury; traumatic CNS injuries

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Division of Neurology, Department of Neurosciences, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC 2: Department of Cellular and Structural Biology, University of Texas, San Antonio, TX 3: Department of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology, University of South Carolina School of Medicine, Columbia, SC, USA

Publication date: September 1, 2009

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