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International Journal of Endocrinology
Volume 2017, Article ID 1835195, 13 pages
Review Article

Melatonin as an Anti-Inflammatory Agent Modulating Inflammasome Activation

1Anatomy and Physiopathology Division, Department of Clinical and Experimental Sciences, University of Brescia, Viale Europa 11, 25123 Brescia, Italy
2Interdepartmental University Center of Research “Adaption and Regeneration of Tissues and Organs (ARTO)”, University of Brescia, Brescia, Italy

Correspondence should be addressed to Rita Rezzani; ti.sbinu@inazzer.atir

Received 16 June 2017; Accepted 27 August 2017; Published 1 October 2017

Academic Editor: Maria L. Dufau

Copyright © 2017 Gaia Favero et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Inflammation may be defined as the innate response to harmful stimuli such as pathogens, injury, and metabolic stress; its ultimate function is to restore the physiological homeostatic state. The exact aetiology leading to the development of inflammation is not known, but a combination of genetic, epigenetic, and environmental factors seems to play an important role in the pathogenesis of many inflammation-related clinical conditions. Recent studies suggest that the pathogenesis of different inflammatory diseases also involves the inflammasomes, intracellular multiprotein complexes that mediate activation of inflammatory caspases thereby inducing the secretion of proinflammatory cytokines. Melatonin, an endogenous indoleamine, is considered an important multitasking molecule with fundamental clinical applications. It is involved in mood modulation, sexual behavior, vasomotor control, and immunomodulation and influences energy metabolism; moreover, it acts as an oncostatic and antiaging molecule. Melatonin is an important antioxidant and also a widespread anti-inflammatory molecule, modulating both pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines in different pathophysiological conditions. This review, first, gives an overview concerning the growing importance of melatonin in the inflammatory-mediated pathological conditions and, then, focuses on its roles and its protective effects against the activation of the inflammasomes and, in particular, of the NLRP3 inflammasome.