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Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 670294, 9 pages
Review Article

Oxidative Stress and Immunosenescence: Therapeutic Effects of Melatonin

Department of Physiology, Neuroimmunophysiology and Chrononutrition Research Group, Faculty of Science, University of Extremadura, 06006 Badajoz, Spain

Received 9 October 2012; Accepted 13 December 2012

Academic Editor: Sumitra Miriyala

Copyright © 2012 Javier Espino 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.


Age-associated deterioration in the immune system, which is referred to as immunosenescence, contributes to an increased susceptibility to infectious diseases, autoimmunity, and cancer in the elderly. A summary of major changes associated with aging in immune system is described in this paper. In general, immunosenescence is characterized by reduced levels of peripheral naïve T cells derived from thymus and the loss of immature B lineage cells in the bone marrow. As for macrophages and granulocytes, they show functional decline with advancing age as evidenced by their diminished phagocytic activity and impairment of superoxide generation. The indole melatonin is mainly secreted in the pineal gland although it has been also detected in many other tissues. As circulating melatonin decreases with age coinciding with the age-related decline of the immune system, much interest has been focused on melatonin’s immunomodulatory effect in recent years. Here, we underlie the antioxidant and immunoenhancing actions displayed by melatonin, thereby providing evidence for the potential application of this indoleamine as a “replacement therapy” to limit or reverse some of the effects of the changes that occur during immunosenescence.