Physiological Effects of Melatonin

Chairman’s Introduction
  • R. J. Wurtman
Conference paper
Part of the Journal of Neural Transmission book series (NEURAL SUPPL, volume 13)


The first report suggesting that melatonin had physiological effects in any vertebrate were probably those of Lerner’s laboratory, in 1958, showing that this indole caused the melanophores in certain amphibians to blanch (Lerner et al., 1958). It is perhaps curious that almost two decades later, really compelling evidence that melatonin normally affects pigmentation is still lacking. (Nordlund and Lerner have noted a decrease in pigmentation in a single patient with Adrenogenital Syndrome given 1 gram of melatonin per day orally, for 30 days; no change was noted in any of four patients with idiopathic hyperpigmentation.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Baschieri, L., de Luca, F., Camarossa, L., de Martino, C., Oliverio, A., Negri, M.: Modifications of thyroid activity by melatonin. Experientia 19, 15 (1963).CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Lerner, A. B., Case, J. D., Takahashi, Y., Lee, H., Mori, W.: Isolation of melatonin, the pineal gland factor that lightens melanocytes. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 80, 2587 (1958).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Minneman, K. P., Wurtman, R. J.: Effects of pineal compounds on mammals. Life Sci. 17, 1189 (1975).CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Minneman, K. P., Wurtman, R. J.: The pharmacology of the pineal gland. Ann. Rev. Pharm. Toxicol. 33, 192 (1976).Google Scholar
  5. Osaki, Y., Lynch, H. J.: Presence of melatonin in plasma and urine of pinealectomized rats. Endocrinology 99, 641 (1976).Google Scholar
  6. Wurtman, R. J., Axelrod, J.: The pineal gland. Sci. Am. 213, 50 (1965).CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Wurtman, R. J., Axelrod, J., Chu, E. W.: Melatonin, a pineal substance: effect on the rat ovary. Science 141, 277 (1963).CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. J. Wurtman
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of Neuroendocrine Regulation, Department of Nutrition and Food ScienceMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA

Personalised recommendations