Regarded as the circadian hormone in mammals, melatonin is a highly conserved molecule, present in nearly all species. In this review, we discuss the role of this indolamine and its precursors in the cell biology of parasites and the role of the molecule in the physiology of the host. In Plasmodium, melatonin can modulate intracellular concentrations of calcium and cAMP, which in turn can regulate kinase activity and cell cycle. In Trypanosoma infections, modulation of the immune system by melatonin is extremely important in controlling the parasite population. Melatonin also contributes to the inflammatory response to Toxoplasma gondii infection. Thus, there are a number of unique adaptations involving intricate connections between melatonin and the biology of the parasite-host relationship. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.
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