The anti-aging effects of melatonin
Melatonin is a molecule produced by all organisms—both animals and plants—and so it is a substance that we consume every day and which is not foreign to our bodies. Melatonin has very powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and this is why it is studied: to try to describe its properties and use them in clinical contexts.
Therefore, professors Darío Acuña and Germaine Escames, researchers at the University of Granada, have focused their studies on two basic lines of research in the field of aging.
First, in normal aging (how we age, the causes of aging, etc.), based on the hypothesis that aging is a process produced by the generation of free radicals, which in turn produce inflammatory reactions resulting in oxidative stress and inflammation. They use melatonin as a means to prevent these manifestations of aging and to improve quality of life as we age.
Second, and in parallel, they try to leverage melatonin’s properties in aging-associated pathologies such as Parkinson’s disease. They study the cellular and molecular mechanisms of these diseases and use the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of melatonin (and its synthetic analogues, which may be more powerful or have greater neuroprotective effects) to improve these aging processes.
In between these two main themes, and based on the hypothesis of aging and its associated pathologies, they are also studying the processes resulting from the generation of free radicals and inflammation. To study these processes and evaluate the role melatonin may play in them, in this third project they induce acute inflammation in experimental animals, referred to as the sepsis model. An exaggerated inflammatory reaction occurs in this acute generalised inflammation state, leading to the start of organ damage, and eventual multi-organ failure that results in death. However, the sepsis model allows the evaluation of, among other things, the mitochondrial damage which occurs during aging, but in a greatly reduced period of time.