Melatonin and the metabolic syndrome: A tool for effective therapy in obesity-associated abnormalities?
The metabolic syndrome (MetS) is a cluster of metabolic abnormalities associated with increased risk for cardiovascular diseases. Apart from its powerful antioxidant properties, the pineal gland hormone melatonin has recently attracted the interest of various investigators as a multifunctional molecule. Melatonin has been shown to have beneficial effects in cardiovascular disorders including ischaemic heart disease and hypertension. However, its role in cardiovascular risk factors including obesity and other related metabolic abnormalities is not yet established, particularly in humans. New emerging data show that melatonin may play an important role in body weight regulation and energy metabolism. This review will address the role of melatonin in the MetS focusing on its effects in obesity, insulin resistance and leptin resistance. The overall findings suggest that melatonin should be exploited as a therapeutic tool to prevent or reverse the harmful effects of obesity and its related metabolic disorders. © 2012 The Authors Acta Physiologica © 2012 Scandinavian Physiological Society.