Melatonin is a hormone that is secreted by the pineal gland. To date, melatonin is known to regulate the sleep cycle by controlling the circadian rhythm. However, recent advances in neuroscience and molecular biology have led to the discovery of new actions and effects of melatonin.
In recent studies, melatonin was shown to have antioxidant activity and, possibly, to affect the development of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). In addition, melatonin has neuroprotective effects and affects neuroplasticity, thus indicating potential antidepressant properties. In the present review, the new functions of melatonin are summarized and a therapeutic target for the development of new drugs based on the mechanism of action of melatonin is proposed.