The skin, being the largest organ in the human body, is exposed to the environment and suffers from both intrinsic and extrinsic aging factors. The skin aging process is characterized by several clinical features such as wrinkling, loss of elasticity, and rough-textured appearance. This complex process is accompanied with phenotypic and functional changes in cutaneous and immune cells, as well as structural and functional disturbances in extracellular matrix components such as collagens and elastin. Because skin health is considered one of the principal factors representing overall “well-being” and the perception of “health” in humans, several anti-aging strategies have recently been developed. Thus, while the fundamental mechanisms regarding skin aging are known, new substances should be considered for introduction into dermatological treatments. Herein, we describe melatonin and its metabolites as potential “aging neutralizers”. Melatonin, an evolutionarily ancient derivative of serotonin with hormonal properties, is the main neuroendocrine secretory product of the pineal gland. It regulates circadian rhythmicity and also exerts anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, and anti-tumor capacities. The intention of this review is to summarize changes within skin aging, research advances on the molecular mechanisms leading to these changes, and the impact of the melatoninergic anti-oxidative system controlled by melatonin and its metabolites, targeting the prevention or reversal of skin aging.
Keywords: AFMK; UV radiation; anti-aging properties; melatonin; oxidative stress; photoaging; skin aging.