The pineal hormone melatonin regulates testicular function through the hypothalamic-adenohypophyseal axis. In addition, direct actions of melatonin in somatic cells of the testis have been described. Melatonin acts as a local modulator of the endocrine activity in Leydig cells. In Sertoli cells, melatonin influences cellular growth, proliferation, energy metabolism and the oxidation state, and consequently may regulate spermatogenesis. These data pinpoint melatonin as a key player in the regulation of testicular physiology (i.e., steroidogenesis, spermatogenesis) mostly in seasonal breeders. In patients with idiopathic infertility, melatonin exerts anti-proliferative and anti-inflammatory effects on testicular macrophages, and provides protective effects against oxidative stress in testicular mast cells. Consequently, melatonin is also involved in the modulation of inflammatory and oxidant/anti-oxidant states in testicular pathology. Overall, the literature data indicate that melatonin has important effects on testicular function and male reproduction.
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