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Asthma patients cautioned about melatonin

taken from the sleeping patients every two hours. These samples were evaluated for their melatonin levels. The study subjects also performed lung function tests before going to bed and after waking up.

The patients with nocturnal asthma had the highest levels of melatonin and the greatest drop in lung function overnight. Peak levels of melatonin averaged 67.5 picograms/milliliter in nocturnal asthmatics, 61.1 pg/mL in non-nocturnal asthmatics, and 53.5 in healthy controls. Lung function, as measured by the amount of air patients can exhale in one second (FEV1), dropped an average of 18.8 percent in nocturnal asthmatics, 5.1 percent in non-nocturnal asthmatics, and increased 1.5 percent in healthy controls. The correlation between overnight change in FEV1 and melatonin levels showed a strong 0.79 correlation in patients with nocturnal asthma. There was a slight, but not statistically significant, correlation among patients with non-nocturnal asthma.

"These findings suggest that melatonin naturally produced by people with nocturnal asthma increases inflammation in their airways, leading to worse lung function," said Dr. Sutherland. "Given that previous work has shown that melatonin promotes inflammation in the cells of both nocturnal and non-nocturnal asthmatics, any person with asthma should be cautious about taking supplements that would further raise their melatonin blood levels."


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Contact: William Allstetter
allstetterw@njc.org
303-398-1002
National Jewish Medical and Research Center
8-Sep-2003


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