The Potential Therapeutic Effect of Melatonin in Gastro-esophageal Reflux Disease

Tharwat S Kandil; Amany A Mousa; Ahmed A El-Gendy; Amr M Abbas

Disclosures

BMC Gastroenterol. 2010;10:7 

In This Article

Background

Gastro esophageal reflux Disease (GERD) is defined as a condition that develops when the reflux of stomach contents causes troublesome symptoms and/or complications.[1] Symptoms of GERD occur in approximately 14 to 20% of the population on at least a weekly basis. Symptoms of GERD may result in a large burden on employers through increased absenteeism and decreased performance while remaining at work impaired by health problems.[2]

Even though over 50 years have passed since the discovery of melatonin, the knowledge on its physiological function is still not complete. The results of the researches have provided the evidence that melatonin is synthesized not only in the pineal gland, but also in different organs. A special attention has been directed to the digestive tract where total quantity of melatonin is considerably greater than in the pineal gland.[3] It was calculated that the gastrointestinal tract contains at least 400 times melatonin than the pineal gland.[4] Although pineal melatonin acts prevalently in an endocrine capacity, extra-pineal melatonin may act as an autocrine or a paracrine hormone.[5] It protects gastric mucosa against destructive activity of free radicals in stress-induced ulcers and due to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and other gastrotoxic agents.[6] Furthermore, Kato et al.[7] demonstrated the inhibitory action of melatonin on secretion of HCL and pepsin. Only a few studies on gastrointestinal role of melatonin have been carried out on humans.

In view of melatonin's known gut regulatory functions, antidepressant and anxiolytic properties, and its potentially beneficial effects on brain gut axis, it was hypothesized that melatonin might serve as an effective agent for treating GERD.

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