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Altered circadian melatonin secretion patterns in relation to sleep in patients with chronic sleep-wake rhythm disorders

Altered circadian melatonin secretion patterns in relation to sleep in patients with chronic sleep-wake rhythm disorders

Journal of Pineal Research 25(4): 201-210

Humans well-being depends on the entrainment of endogenous circadian rhythms of biological functions and the sleep-wake rhythm. Although the incidence of otherwise healthy subjects with chronically altered sleep-wake rhythms is rather low, the investigation of these patients provides new sights into circadian entrainment mechanisms. We therefore examined the circadian rhythm of circulating melatonin and the sleep-wake rhythm in five patients with chronic sleep-wake rhythm disorders and ten age-matched healthy controls. All patients showed altered circadian melatonin rhythm parameters in relation to their sleep-wake cycle compared to age-matched controls. These alterations were random i.e., independent of the type, the duration, and the age of onset of the disorder. The melatonin onset to sleep onset interval varied between the patients and the melatonin acrophase to sleep offset interval was prolonged in four patients. These findings indicate individual phase relations between the circadian melatonin rhythm and the sleep-wake cycle in patients with chronic sleep-awake rhythm disorders. Since the prolonged melatonin acrophase to sleep offset interval was the most consistent finding independent of aetiological origins, this abnormality may be one possible maintaining factor in chronic sleep-wake rhythm disorders due to reduced phase-resetting properties of the circadian pacemaker. Furthermore, rather low circadian melatonin amplitudes and subsensitivity to daylight may maintain the disorder in at least some patients.

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Accession: 010148131

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DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-079x.1998.tb00389.x

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