Elevated serum melatonin is associated with the nocturnal worsening of asthma.


Journal Article

BACKGROUND:Increased airway inflammation at night contributes to the nocturnal worsening of asthma. In vitro studies have shown exogenous melatonin to be pro-inflammatory in asthma, but it is unknown whether endogenous melatonin levels are a controller of airway inflammation in nocturnal asthma. OBJECTIVE:Our aim was to determine 24-hour patterns of serum melatonin and their relationship to overnight decline in physiology in subjects with nocturnal asthma, non-nocturnal asthma, and in healthy controls. METHODS:Observational study of pulmonary physiology and melatonin levels in patients with nocturnal asthma (n = 7), non-nocturnal asthma (n = 13), and healthy controls (n = 11). Subjects maintained a constant sleep-wake regimen for 7 days. On day 8, serum melatonin was measured every 2 hours by radioimmunoassay and analyzed by cosinor modeling. The correlation between serum melatonin levels and overnight change in spirometry was evaluated by Spearman's rank correlation analysis. RESULTS:In subjects with nocturnal asthma, peak melatonin levels were significantly elevated compared with healthy controls (67.6 +/- 5.0 pg/mL versus 53.5 +/- 4.0 pg/mL, P =.03). Melatonin acrophase was delayed in nocturnal asthma (02:54 versus 01:58 in healthy controls, P =.003, and 02:15 in non-nocturnal asthma, P =.01). In subjects with nocturnal asthma, increasing melatonin levels were significantly and inversely correlated with overnight change in FEV(1) (r = -.79, P =.04), a relationship that was not observed in non-nocturnal asthma or healthy controls. CONCLUSIONS:Nocturnal asthma is associated with elevation and phase delay of peak serum melatonin levels. Elevated melatonin levels might contribute to the pathogenesis of nocturnal asthma.

Full Text

Cited Authors

  • Sutherland, ER; Ellison, MC; Kraft, M; Martin, RJ

Published Date

  • September 2003

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 112 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 513 - 517

PubMed ID

  • 13679809

Pubmed Central ID

  • 13679809

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1097-6825

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1097-6825

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/s0091-6749(03)01717-2


  • eng