Journal of Shanghai Jiao Tong University (Medical Science) ›› 2022, Vol. 42 ›› Issue (5): 667-672.doi: 10.3969/j.issn.1674-8115.2022.05.016

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Research progress of the mechanism of melatonin in the pathogenesis and course of asthma

KANG Wenhui1(), CHEN Yiting1, ZHAO Anda2, LI Rong1, LI Shenghui1()   

  1. 1.School of Public Health, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai 200025, China
    2.Department of Nutrition, Shanghai Ninth People's Hospital, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, Shanghai 200011, China
  • Received:2022-02-22 Accepted:2022-05-22 Online:2022-05-28 Published:2022-05-28
  • Contact: LI Shenghui;
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(81874266)


Melatonin is one of the hormones secreted by the pineal gland. The efficacy of melatonin in regulating circadian rhythm and improving sleep has been widely explored and confirmed. Studies have shown that excessive secretion or disordered melatonin can lead to adverse health effects. In recent years, accumulated evidence shows that melatonin plays an important role in anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, immune regulation, and so on. In addition, melatonin can not only be synthesized in the human body, but also be easily obtained through external sources. Therefore, its impact on human body has attracted much attention. Based on the involvement of melatonin in airway inflammation and airway remodeling, this study systematically searched and screened 37 relevant literatures up to February 2022 and analyzed the effect of melatonin on asthma and its related mechanisms. The results showed that, on one hand, melatonin could affect gene transcription and translation by inhibiting phosphorylation signaling pathway and blocking the activation of nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB), thereby changing the expression of respiratory cytokines and inflammatory cells, reducing the generation and recruitment of eosinophils and other inflammatory cells, inhibiting cytokines and enzymes such as interleukin-1β (IL-1β), IL-4, IL-6 and caspase-1, reducing the production of mucus, playing a role in inhibiting airway inflammation, and also antagonizing the exogenous exacerbation and atopic process of asthma. On the other hand, melatonin can inhibit airway remodeling by acting on matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9), reducing collagen deposition, inhibiting goblet cell proliferation and improving smooth muscle cell phenotype. All these findings suggest that melatonin has the potential to regulate the pathogenesis of asthma by inhibiting airway inflammation and remodeling. Further exploration on the immunomodulatory function of melatonin is expected to provide new ideas for the prevention and treatment of asthma.

Key words: melatonin, asthma, airway inflammation, airway remodeling

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