Possible Roles of Melatonin in Disturbances of the Menstrual Cycle
Until a few decades ago textbooks of physiology or endocrinology routinely dismissed the pineal gland as Decartes’ “seat of the soul,” or as a calcified vestige of a more phylogenetically primitive third eye whose only function, in humans, was as a landmark for neuroradiologists. However, since the end of the 1950s rapid and continuing progress has been made in uncovering functions for the pineal gland and for its principal secretion, melatonin (Wurtman and Moskovitz 1977). The importance of this hormone in controlling mammalian reproduction, especially among seasonal breeders, now appears to be well established (Wurtman et al. 1963; Reiter 1980). Recently, evidence has been published suggesting that the pineal, acting via melatonin, may also be involved in the regulation of human reproductive processes, particularly involving puberty (Waldhauser et al. 1984) and the menstrual cycle (Webley and Leidenberger 1986; Brzezinski et al. 1988). The actions of each of these processes and evidence implicating melatonin in certain disturbances of the menstrual cycle are discussed below.
KeywordsDopamine Cortisol Serotonin Testosterone Arginine
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