Immunomodulatory effects of melatonin in asthma.


Journal Article

Patients with nocturnal asthma demonstrate circadian variations in airway inflammation. We hypothesized that melatonin, a circadian rhythm regulator, modulates circadian inflammatory variations in asthma. The effect of melatonin stimulation on peripheral blood mononuclear cell cytokine production was evaluated at 4:00 P.M. and 4:00 A.M. in normal control subjects, patients with nocturnal asthma, and patients with non-nocturnal asthma. Melatonin was proinflammatory, causing significantly increased production of interleukin-1, interleukin-6, and tumor necrosis factor-alpha at 4:00 P.M. and 4:00 A.M. in all subject groups (range, 12.8 +/- 3.3 to 131.72 +/- 16.4%, p < or = 0.0003). The observed increases in cytokine production did not change between 4:00 P.M. and 4:00 A.M. in control subjects or in patients with nocturnal asthma (p > 0.05, both cases). At 4:00 P.M., the cytokine response to melatonin of patients with nocturnal asthma was greater than that of control subjects or patients with non-nocturnal asthma and did not change significantly at 4:00 A.M. At 4:00 P.M., the cytokine response of patients with non-nocturnal asthma was less than that of patients with nocturnal asthma and rose significantly at 4:00 A.M. (p = 0.0001, all comparisons). Melatonin is proinflammatory in both patients with asthma and healthy subjects. Patients with nocturnal asthma demonstrate the largest daytime cytokine response and cannot be further stimulated at 4:00 A.M., suggesting chronic overstimulation in vivo. These results suggest differential immunomodulatory effects of melatonin based on asthma clinical phenotype and may indicate an adverse effect of exogenous melatonin in asthma.

Full Text

Cited Authors

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

Published Date

  • October 2002

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 166 / 8

Start / End Page

  • 1055 - 1061

PubMed ID

  • 12379548

Pubmed Central ID

  • 12379548

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1535-4970

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1073-449X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1164/rccm.200204-356oc


  • eng