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Is melatonin involved in the irritable bowel syndrome?



J Physiol Pharmacol. 2009 Oct;60 Suppl 3:67-70.

Is melatonin involved in the irritable bowel syndrome?

Radwan P, Skrzydlo-Radomanska B, Radwan-Kwiatek K, Burak-Czapiuk B, Strzemecka J. Department of Gastroenterology, Medical University of Lublin, Poland.

There is a substantial evidence that large quantities of melatonin are produced in gastrointestinal tract, however, is still unclear which is the role of melatonin in digestive system in human physiology and pathophysiology. In the present study we investigated urinary excretion of a main melatonin metabolite, 6-sulphatoxymelatonin, in patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The investigation was carried out in 67 persons, both sexes, aged 20-45 years old who according to Rome III Criteria were diagnosed as sufferers of constipation (C-IBS, n=21 persons) or diarrhoea (D-IBS, n=24 persons) form of irritable bowel syndrome and as healthy subjects (K, n=22), matched for control. Samples were obtained from the collected diurnal urine. The concentration of 6-sulphatoxymelatonin (6-SMLT) was measured with ELISA method, creatinine (crea) was automatically analyzed with biochemical analyzer and 6-SMLT/crea calculated. There were statistically significant differences between groups: the 6-SMLT/crea level was lower in C-IBS (103.86+/- 82.83 ng/mg) and D-IBS (112.72+/-85.29 ng/mg) groups compared to K group (202.7+/-89.28 ng/mg), respectively, p=0.002, p=0.003. There were no differences between C-IBS and D-IBS groups, however, there were observed differences between men and women with C-IBS. The 6-SMLT/crea. level was higher in women with C-IBS (139.31+/-96.45) compared to men with C-IBS (35.51+/-41.05) (p=0.04). These results suggest that different melatonin secretion and metabolism may be involved in the pathogenesis of irritable bowel syndrome.

PMID: 19996484 [PubMed - in process]









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  • Interesting that these researchers have chosen to look at melatonin (the "sleep hormone") levels in IBS patients. Melatonin is synthesised from serotonin in the gut and other areas of the body and serotonin is known to play a significant role in IBS as it regulates intestinal motility. Drugs which either reduce or increase certain actions of serotonin in the gut have been widely tested in diarrhoea-predominant IBS (IBS-D) and constipation-predominant IBS (IBS-C) to either reduce or increase the frequency of bowel movements.

    Perhaps melatonin also plays a role in the regulation of gut function. It is best known for regulating sleep and the body clock ('sleep-wake cycle' or 'diurnal rhythm').

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