Melatonin in Sperm Biology: Breaking Paradigms

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ContentsMelatonin is a ubiquitous molecule, present in a wide range of organisms, and involved in multiple functions. Melatonin relays the information about the photoperiod to the tissues that express melatonin-binding sites in both central and peripheral nervous systems. This hormone has a complex mechanism of action. It can cross the cell plasma membrane and exert its actions in all cells of the body. Certain melatonin actions are mediated by receptors that belong to the superfamily of G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), the MT1 and MT2 membrane. Melatonin can also bind to calmodulin as well as to nuclear receptors of the retinoic acid receptor family, RORα1, RORα2 and RZRβ. The purpose of this review is to report on recent developments in the physiological role of melatonin and its receptors. Specific issues concerning the biological function of melatonin in mammalian seasonal reproduction and spermatozoa are considered. The significance of the continuous presence of melatonin in seminal plasma with a fairly constant concentration is also discussed.

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