2013 Volume 60 Issue 1 Pages 1-13
This review summarizes new findings related to beneficial effects of melatonin (N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine) on reproductive physiology. Recently many researchers have begun to study the local role of melatonin as an antioxidant. We focused on intra-follicular role of melatonin in the ovary. Melatonin, secreted by the pineal gland, is taken up into the follicular fluid from the blood. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are produced within the follicles, during the ovulatory process. Melatonin reduces oxidative stress as an antioxidant, and contribute to oocyte maturation, embryo development and luteinization of granulosa cells. Our clinical study demonstrated that melatonin treatment for infertile women increases intra-follicular melatonin concentrations, reduces intra-follicular oxidative damage, and elevates fertilization and pregnancy rates. Melatonin treatment also improves progesterone production by corpus luteum in infertile women with luteal phase defect. Melatonin treatment could become a new cure for improving oocyte quality and luteal function in infertile women.