Life Extension Magazine April 2010
Sleep loss: a novel risk factor for insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes.
Chronic sleep loss as a consequence of voluntary bedtime restriction is an endemic condition in modern society. Although sleep exerts marked modulatory effects on glucose metabolism, and molecular mechanisms for the interaction between sleeping and feeding have been documented, the potential impact of recurrent sleep curtailment on the risk for diabetes and obesity has only recently been investigated. In laboratory studies of healthy young adults submitted to recurrent partial sleep restriction, marked alterations in glucose metabolism including decreased glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity have been demonstrated. The neuroendocrine regulation of appetite was also affected as the levels of the anorexigenic hormone leptin were decreased, whereas the levels of the orexigenic factor ghrelin were increased. Importantly, these neuroendocrine abnormalities were correlated with increased hunger and appetite, which may lead to overeating and weight gain. Consistent with these laboratory findings, a growing body of epidemiological evidence supports an association between short sleep duration and the risk for obesity and diabetes. Chronic sleep loss may also be the consequence of pathological conditions such as sleep-disordered breathing. In this increasingly prevalent syndrome, a feedforward cascade of negative events generated by sleep loss, sleep fragmentation, and hypoxia are likely to exacerbate the severity of metabolic disturbances. In conclusion, chronic sleep loss, behavioral or sleep disorder related, may represent a novel risk factor for weight gain, insulin resistance, and Type 2 diabetes.
J Appl Physiol. 2005 Nov;99(5):2008-19
Suppression of immunity to influenza virus infection in the respiratory tract following sleep disturbance.
The extent to which sleep deprivation interferes with immunity in the respiratory tract to influenza virus has been assessed in mice. Mice were orally immunized with influenza virus on two occasions separated by a one week interval and challenged intranasally one week later. Some animals were deprived of sleep for a 7 h period immediately following challenge. Three days after challenge, virus clearance and virus specific antibody were determined in lungs of sleep deprived and normally sleeping mice and the results compared with unimmunized mice subjected to the same protocol. Whereas immunized, normal sleep mice achieved total virus clearance, sleep deprivation in immunized mice completely abrogated this effect such that sleep deprived animals behaved as though they had never been immunized. There was no difference in viral clearance in unimmunized mice whether sleep deprived or not, indicating that sleep deprivation did not itself have a direct effect on viral replication. The data reported here support the concept that sleep is a behavioral state which is essential for optimal immune function in the presence of a respiratory tract pathogen.
Reg Immunol. 1989 Sep-Oct;2(5):321-5
Daily melatonin administration to middle-aged male rats suppresses body weight, intraabdominal adiposity, and plasma leptin and insulin independent of food intake and total body fat.
Pineal melatonin secretion declines with aging, whereas visceral fat, plasma insulin, and plasma leptin tend to increase. We have previously demonstrated that daily melatonin administration at middle age suppressed male rat intraabdominal visceral fat, plasma leptin, and plasma insulin to youthful levels; the current study was designed to begin investigating mechanisms that mediate these responses. Melatonin (0.4 microg/ml) or vehicle was administered in the drinking water of 10-month-old male Sprague Dawley rats (18/treatment) for 12 weeks. Half (9/treatment) were then killed, and the other half were submitted to cross-over treatment for an additional 12 weeks. Twelve weeks of melatonin treatment decreased (P<0.05) body weight (BW; by 7% relative to controls), relative intraabdominal adiposity (by 16%), plasma leptin (by 33%), and plasma insulin (by 25%) while increasing (P<0.05) locomotor activity (by 19%), core body temperature (by 0.5 C), and morning plasma corticosterone (by 154%), restoring each of these parameters toward more youthful levels. Food intake and total body fat were not changed by melatonin treatment. Melatonin-treated rats that were then crossed over to control treatment for a further 12 weeks gained BW, whereas control rats that were crossed to melatonin treatment lost BW, but food intake did not change in either group. Feed efficiency (grams of BW change per g cumulative food intake), a measure of metabolic function, was negative in melatonin-treated rats and positive in control rats before cross-over (P<0.001); this relationship was reversed after cross-over (P<0.001). Thus, melatonin treatment in middle age decreased BW, intraabdominal adiposity, plasma insulin, and plasma leptin, without altering food intake or total adiposity. These results suggest that the decrease in endogenous melatonin with aging may alter metabolism and physical activity, resulting in increased BW, visceral adiposity, and associated detrimental metabolic consequences.
Endocrinology. 2000 Feb;141(2):487-97
Alterations in nocturnal serum melatonin levels in humans with growth and aging.
The available data on potential alterations in serum melatonin (MLT) levels during a human lifetime are fragmentary and inconsistent. We, therefore, measured day- and nighttime serum MLT concentrations in 367 subjects (210 males and 157 females), aged 3 days to 90 yr. Blood samples were collected between 0730 and 1000 h and between 2300 and 0100 h. Serum MLT levels were measured by RIA. The mean nighttime serum MLT concentration was low during the first 6 months of life, i.e. 27.3 +/- 5.4 (+/- SE) pg/mL (0.12 +/- 0.02 nmol/L). It then increased to a peak value at 1-3 yr of age [329.5 +/- 42.0 pg/mL; (1.43 +/- 0.18 nmol/L)], and it was considerably lower [62.5 +/- 9.0 pg/mL; (0.27 +/- 0.04 nmol/L)] in individuals aged 15-20 yr. During the following decades serum MLT declined moderately until old age (70-90 yr of age), i.e. 29.2 +/- 6.1 pg/mL (0.13 +/- 0.03 nmol/L). This biphasic MLT decline follows 2 exponential functions with different slopes (from age 1-20 yr: r = -0.56; P less than 0.001; y = 278.7 X e -0.09x; from age 20-90 yr: r = -0.44; P less than 0.001; y = 84.8 X e -0.017x). The decrease in nocturnal serum MLT in children and adolescents (1-20 yr) correlated with the increase in body weight (r = -0.54; P less than 0.001) and body surface area (r = -0.71; P less than 0.001). At a later age (20-90 yr) there was no correlation among these variables. Daytime serum MLT levels were low and no age-related alterations were found. This study revealed major age-related alterations in nocturnal serum MLT levels. The negative correlation between serum MLT and body weight in childhood and adolescence is evidence that expansion of body size is responsible for the huge MLT decrease during that period. The moderate decline at older ages must derive from other factors.
J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1988 Mar;66(3):648-52
Melatonin and sleep in aging population.
The neurohormone melatonin is released from the pineal gland in close association with the light-dark cycle. There is a temporal relationship between the nocturnal rise in melatonin secretion and the ‘opening of the sleep gate’ at night. This association, as well as the sleep promoting effect of exogenous melatonin, implicates the pineal product in the physiological regulation of sleep. Aging is associated with a significant reduction in sleep continuity and quality. A decreased production of melatonin with age is documented in a majority of studies. Diminished nocturnal melatonin secretion with severe disturbances in sleep/wake rhythm has been consistently reported in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). A recent survey on the effects of melatonin in sleep disturbances, including all age groups, failed to document significant and clinically meaningful effects of exogenous melatonin on sleep quality, efficiency and latency. However, in clinical trials involving elderly insomniacs and AD patients suffering from sleep disturbances exogenous melatonin has repeatedly been found to be effective in improving sleep. The results indicate that exogenous melatonin is more effective to promote sleep in the presence of a diminished production of endogenous melatonin. A MT1/MT2 receptor analog of melatonin (ramelteon) has recently been introduced as a new type of hypnotics with no evidence of abuse or dependence.
Exp Gerontol. 2005 Dec;40(12):911-25. Epub 2005 Sep 23
Melatonin treatment for age-related insomnia.
Older people typically exhibit poor sleep efficiency and reduced nocturnal plasma melatonin levels. The daytime administration of oral melatonin to younger people, in doses that raise their plasma melatonin levels to the nocturnal range, can accelerate sleep onset. We examined the ability of similar, physiological doses to restore nighttime melatonin levels and sleep efficiency in insomniac subjects over 50 yr old. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, subjects who slept normally (n = 15) or exhibited actigraphically confirmed decreases in sleep efficiency (n = 15) received, in randomized order, a placebo and three melatonin doses (0.1, 0.3, and 3.0 mg) orally 30 min before bedtime for a week. Treatments were separated by 1-wk washout periods. Sleep data were obtained by polysomnography on the last three nights of each treatment period. The physiologic melatonin dose (0.3 mg) restored sleep efficiency (P < 0.0001), acting principally in the midthird of the night; it also elevated plasma melatonin levels (P < 0.0008) to normal. The pharmacologic dose (3.0 mg), like the lowest dose (0.1 mg), also improved sleep; however, it induced hypothermia and caused plasma melatonin to remain elevated into the daylight hours. Although control subjects, like insomniacs, had low melatonin levels, their sleep was unaffected by any melatonin dose.
J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2001 Oct;86(10):4727-30
Effects of exogenous melatonin on sleep: a meta-analysis.
Exogenous melatonin reportedly induces drowsiness and sleep, and may ameliorate sleep disturbances, including the nocturnal awakenings associated with old age. However, existing studies on the soporific efficacy of melatonin have been highly heterogeneous in regard to inclusion and exclusion criteria, measures to evaluate insomnia, doses of the medication, and routes of administration. We reviewed and analyzed (by meta-analysis) available information on effects of exogenous melatonin on sleep. A MEDLINE search (1980 to December 2003) provided English-language articles, supplemented by personal files maintained by the authors. The analysis used information derived from 17 different studies (involving 284 subjects) that satisfied inclusion criteria. Sleep onset latency, total sleep duration, and sleep efficiency were selected as the outcome measures. The study effect size was taken to be the difference between the response on placebo and the mean response on melatonin for each outcome measured. Melatonin treatment significantly reduced sleep onset latency by 4.0 min (95% CI 2.5, 5.4); increased sleep efficiency by 2.2% (95% CI 0.2, 4.2), and increased total sleep duration by 12.8 min (95% CI 2.9, 22.8). Since 15 of the 17 studies enrolled healthy subjects or people with no relevant medical condition other than insomnia, the analysis was also done including only these 15 studies. The sleep onset results were changed to 3.9 min (95% CI (2.5, 5.4)); sleep efficiency increased to 3.1% (95% CI (0.7, 5.5)); sleep duration increased to 13.7 min (95% CI (3.1, 24.3)).
Sleep Med Rev. 2005 Feb;9(1):41-50
Melatonin replacement therapy of elderly insomniacs.
Changes in sleep-wake patterns are among the hallmarks of biological aging. Previously, we reported that impaired melatonin secretion is associated with sleep disorders in old age. In this study we investigated the effects of melatonin replacement therapy on melatonin-deficient elderly insomniacs. The study comprised a running-in, no-treatment period and four experimental periods. During the second, third and fourth periods, subjects were administered tablets for 7 consecutive days, 2 hours before desired bedtime. The tablets were either 2 mg melatonin administered as sustained-release or fast-release formulations, or an identical-looking placebo. The fifth period, which concluded the study, was a 2-month period of daily administration of 1 mg sustained-release melatonin 2 hours before desired bedtime. During each of these five experimental periods, sleep-wake patterns were monitored by wrist-worn actigraphs. Analysis of the first three 1-week periods revealed that a 1-week treatment with 2 mg sustained-release melatonin was effective for sleep maintenance (i.e. sleep efficiency and activity level) of elderly insomniacs, while sleep initiation was improved by the fast-release melatonin treatment. Sleep maintenance and initiation were further improved following the 2-month 1-mg sustained-release melatonin treatment, indicating that tolerance had not developed. After cessation of treatment, sleep quality deteriorated. Our findings suggest that for melatonin-deficient elderly insomniacs, melatonin replacement therapy may be beneficial in the initiation and maintenance of sleep.
Sleep. 1995 Sep;18(7):598-603
Neurobehavioural performance effects of daytime melatonin and temazepam administration.
Exogenous melatonin is a potential treatment for circadian disruption and insomnia. Hence, it is important to determine and quantify neurobehavioural performance effects associated with its use. The present study compared neurobehavioural performance following administration of melatonin and the benzodiazepine temazepam, using a within-subjects design. Following a training day, 16 healthy, young subjects (six males, 10 females; mean age +/- SEM, 21.4 +/- 6 years) participated in a 3-day protocol. After sleeping overnight in the laboratory, subjects completed a battery of tests at hourly intervals between 08:00 and 11:00 hours and at two hourly intervals between 13:00 and 17:00 hours. The neurobehavioural performance tasks included: unpredictable tracking, spatial memory, vigilance and logical reasoning. Subjective sleepiness was measured at hourly intervals using a visual analogue scale. At 12:00 h subjects were administered a capsule containing 5 mg melatonin, 10 mg temazepam or placebo, in a randomized, double-blind crossover fashion. A significant drug x time interaction was evident on the unpredictable tracking, spatial memory and vigilance tasks (P < 0.05). Greater changes in performance were evident following temazepam administration than melatonin administration, relative to placebo. Administration of melatonin or temazepam significantly elevated subjective sleepiness levels, relative to placebo (P </= 0.05). The present findings demonstrate that melatonin administration induces a smaller deficit in performance on a range of neurobehavioural tasks than temazepam. Given melatonin’s soporific and chronobiotic properties, these results suggest that melatonin may be preferable to benzodiazepines in the management of circadian and sleep disorders.
J Sleep Res. 2003 Sep;12(3):207-12
Melatonin as a major skin protectant: from free radical scavenging to DNA damage repair.
Melatonin, one of the evolutionarily most ancient, highly conserved and most pleiotropic hormones still operative in man, couples complex tissue functions to defined changes in the environment. Showing photoperiod-associated changes in its activity levels in mammals, melatonin regulates, chronobiological and reproductive systems, coat phenotype and mammary gland functions. However, this chief secretory product of the pineal gland is now recognized to also exert numerous additional functions which range from free radical scavenging and DNA repair via immunomodulation, body weight control and the promotion of wound healing to the coupling of environmental cues to circadian clock gene expression and the modulation of secondary endocrine signalling (e.g. prolactin release, oestrogen receptor-mediated signalling). Some of these activities are mediated by high-affinity membrane (MT1, MT2) or specific cytosolic (MT3/NQO2) and nuclear hormone receptors (ROR alpha), while others reflect receptor-independent antioxidant activities of melatonin. Recently, it was shown that mammalian (including human) skin and hair follicles are not only melatonin targets, but also sites of extrapineal melatonin synthesis. Therefore, we provide here an update of the relevant cutaneous effects and mechanisms of melatonin, portray melatonin as a major skin protectant and sketch how its multi-facetted functions may impact on skin biology and pathology. This is illustrated by focussing on recent findings on the role of melatonin in photodermatology and hair follicle biology. After listing a number of key open questions, we conclude by defining particularly important, clinically relevant perspectives for how melatonin may become therapeutically exploitable in cutaneous medicine.
Exp Dermatol. 2008 Sep;17(9):713-30
Melatonin in dermatology. Experimental and clinical aspects.
Melatonin (N-acetyl-5-metho-xytryptamine) is a hormone with multiple functions in humans, produced by the pineal gland and stimulated by beta-adrenergic receptors. Serum melatonin levels exhibit a circadian rhythm with low levels during the day, rise in the evening and maximum levels at night between 2 and 4 a.m. Melatonin participates in the regulation of several physiological processes such as seasonal biological rhythm, daily sleep induction, aging and modulation of immunobiological defence reactions. Furthermore, melatonin has a highly lipophilic molecular structure facilitating penetration of cell membranes and serving as an extra- and intracellular free radical scavenger. Melatonin seems to quench mainly hydroxyl radicals, the most damaging of all free radicals. Melatonin may play a role in the etiology and treatment of several dermatoses e.g. atopic eczema, psoriasis and malignant melanoma. The influence of melatonin on hair growth is another aspect. Topical application of melatonin inhibits the development of UV-erythema. Penetration through skin after topical application and oral bioavailability auxit further investigations on the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic actions of melatonin.
Hautarzt. 1999 Jan;50(1):5-11