Therapeutic potential of melatonin ligands
Delagrange P, Boutin JA.
Departement des Sciences Experimentales,
Institut de Recherches Servier,
Suresnes, France.
Chronobiol Int. 2006;23(1):413-8.


Melatonin is a neurohormone that is believed to be involved in a wide range of physiological functions. In humans, appropriate clinical trials confirm the efficacy of melatonin or melatoninergic agonists for the MT(1) and MT(2) receptor subtypes in circadian rhythm sleep disorders only. Nevertheless, preclinical animal model studies relevant to human pathologies involving validated reference compounds lead to other therapeutic possibilities. Among these is a recently developed treatment concept for depression, which has been validated by the clinical efficacy of agomelatine, an agent having both MT(1) and MT(2) agonist and 5-HT(2C) antagonist activity. A third melatonin binding site has been purified and characterized as the enzyme quinone reductase 2 (QR2). The physiological role of this enzyme is not yet known. Recent results obtained by different groups suggest: (1) that inhibition of QR2 may lead to "protective" effects and (2) that over-expression of this enzyme may have deleterious effects. The inhibitory effect of melatonin on QR2 observed in vitro may explain the protective effects reported for melatonin in different animal models, such as cardiac or renal ischemia-effects that have been attributed to the controversial antioxidant properties of the hormone. The development of specific ligands for each of these melatonin binding sites is necessary to link physiological and/or therapeutic effects.

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