Antioxidant enzymes form the first line of defense against free radicals in organisms. Their regulation depends mainly on the oxidant status of the cell, given that oxidants are their principal modulators. However, other factors have been reported to increase antioxidant enzyme activity and/or gene expression.
During the last decade, the antioxidant melatonin has been shown to possess genomic actions, regulating the expression of several genes. Melatonin also influences both antioxidant enzyme activity and cellular mRNA levels for these enzymes.
In the present report, we review the studies which document the influence of melatonin on the activity and expression of the antioxidative enzymes glutathione peroxidase, superoxide dismutases and catalase both under physiological and under conditions of elevated oxidative stress. We also analyze the possible mechanisms by which melatonin regulates these enzymes.