Uncontrolled hydrochloric acid secretion and ulceration of the stomach mucosa due to various factors are serious global problems. Although the mechanism of acid secretion from the parietal cell is now well understood, the processes involved in gastric ulceration are still not clear. Among various causes of gastric ulceration, lesions caused by stress, alcohol consumption, Helicobacter pylori infection and due to use of nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs have been shown to be mediated largely through the generation of reactive oxygen species, especially the hydroxyl radical. A number of excellent drugs have proven useful in controlling hyperacidity and ulceration but their long-term use is associated with disturbing side-effects. Hence, the search is still on to find a compound possessing antisecretory, antiulcer and antioxidant properties which will serve as a therapeutic agent to reduce gastric hyperacidity and ulcers. This article describes the role of reactive oxygen species in gastric ulceration , drugs controlling them with their merits and demerits and, the role of melatonin, a pineal secretory product, in protecting against gastric lesions. In experimental studies, melatonin has been shown to be effective in reducing mucosal breakdown and ulcer formation in a wide variety of situations. Additionally, the low toxicity of melatonin supports further investigation of this molecule as a gastroprotective agent. Finally, we include a commentary on how melatonin research with respect to gastric pathophysiology can move forward with a view of eventually using this indole as a therapeutic agent to control gastric ulceration in humans.
Keywords: Mucosal Ulceration, Helicobacter pylori infection, antioxidant, free radical scavenger, Omeprazole, Melatonin, Ranitidine, Indomethacin (IMN), an NSAID
Rights & PermissionsPrintExport