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The pineal hormone melatonin is a multi-functional molecule with a recognized role in pigment aggregation in chromatophores, mediating its actions through binding to subtypes of its specific receptors. Since its discovery, melatonin has been known to be responsible for pigment aggregation towards the cell centre in fishes, including their embryos, as an adaptation to reduced light and thus results in pale body colouration. Diversity exists in the sensitivity of melanophores towards melatonin at interspecies, intraspecific levels, seasons, and amongst chromatophores at different regions of the animal body. In most of the fishes, melatonin leads to their skin paling at night. It is indicated that the melatonin receptors have characteristically maintained to show the same aggregating effects in fishes and other vertebrates in the evolutionary hierarchy. However, besides this aggregatory effect, melatonin is also responsible for pigment dispersion in certain fishes. Here is the demand in our review to explore further the nature of the dispersive behaviour of melatonin through the so-called β-melatonin receptors. It is clear that the pigment translocations in lower vertebrates under the effect of melatonin are mediated through the melatonin receptors coupled with other hormonal receptors as well. Therefore, being richly supplied with a variety of receptors, chromatophores and melanocytes can be used as in vitro test models for pharmacological applications of known and novel drugs. In this review, we present diverse effects of melatonin on chromatophores of fishes in particular with appropriate implications on most of the recent findings. © 2023. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature B.V.


Muhammad Mubashshir, Nabeel Ahmad, Tripti Negi, Renu Bala Sharma, Helen Nilsson Sköld, Mohd Ovais. Exploring the mechanisms and impacts of melatonin on fish colouration. Fish physiology and biochemistry. 2023 Dec;49(6):1511-1525

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PMID: 37982969

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