Cartilage is a relatively simple connective tissue that plays a variety of roles in the human body, including joint support and protection, load bearing of the intervertebral discs, joint lubrication, formation of the external structure of the ears and nose and support of the trachea. The maintenance of cartilage homeostasis is therefore crucial. Cartilage-related diseases are difficult to diagnose and treat because their molecular and pathological mechanisms are not fully understood.
Melatonin, which has a wide range of physiological effects, is an endocrine hormone mainly secreted by the pineal gland. Its biological effects include its antioxidant, antiaging, analgesic, and hypnotic effects and its ability to stabilize the circadian rhythm. In recent years, research on cartilage homeostasis and melatonin has been increasing, and melatonin has gradually been used in the treatment of cartilage-related diseases. Therefore, this article will briefly review the role of melatonin in cartilage homeostasis, including its anti-inflammatory effects and effects in protecting cartilage from damage by other factors and promoting chondrocyte growth and the expression of cartilage-related genes.
Based on the above, the current status and future developmental direction of melatonin in the treatment of cartilage-related diseases are also discussed, demonstrating the broad prospects of melatonin in maintaining cartilage homeostasis and treating cartilage injury-related diseases.