Danilova, N., Krupnik, V.E., Sugden, D., and Zhdanova, I.V. (2004) Melatonin stimulates cell proliferation in zebrafish embryo and accelerates its development. FASEB journal : official publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. 18(6):751-753.
All vertebrates show a dramatic circadian rhythm in circulating melatonin with high levels at night and very low levels during daytime. In adults, melatonin is thought to synchronize other circadian rhythms and regulate seasonal rhythms in photoperiodic animals by acting on specific G-protein coupled receptors. The role of melatonin in development is unknown, even though melatonin receptors appear to be more highly expressed in developing embryos and neonates than in adults. In this study on zebrafish embryos, we describe a role for melatonin in increasing cell proliferation and accelerating development. We propose that melatonin has a role in extending the safe limit of proliferation rate at night to allow more rapid development when potentially damaging ultraviolet light is absent.