Can This Hormone That Regulates Sleep Treat Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension Symptoms?

According to a story from Pulmonary Hypertension News, the results of a recent mouse study has produced some remarkable results. The study found that melatonin, a naturally occurring hormone in the body that regulates sleep and may help protect against cardiovascular disease, was able to provide relief of symptoms and signs associated with pulmonary arterial hypertension. While this is a very early study, the results are nevertheless encouraging.

About Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH)

Pulmonary arterial hypertension is a condition in which the blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs is abnormally high. The cause of pulmonary arterial hypertension is often unknown in many cases. However, there are a variety of potential causes, such as certain heritable genetic mutations, exposure to certain toxins, and drug use (ex. methamphetamine). It can also appear as a symptom or complication in a number of other diseases, such as heart disease, connective tissue disease, and infection with HIV. The arteries in the lungs are often inflamed. Symptoms of this condition include rapid heartbeat, poor exercise tolerance, shortness of breath, fainting, leg swelling, fatigue, and chest pain. Treatment may include a number of medications and surgical operations, including lung transplant. A transplant can cure the condition, but it can cause many complications. Survival rate is often only about two or three years without treatment, but the latest drugs can prolong life by several years or more. Click here to learn more about pulmonary arterial hypertension.

Melatonin: A Secret Weapon?

The researchers found that melatonin was capable of protecting the blood vessels in the lungs from damage in the mouse model of the disease. This was because the hormone inactivated the proteins that normally triggered the inflammatory response. The authors conclude that the findings suggest that melatonin could be a potential therapy for the illness. The hormone is normally produced as a part of the body’s circadian rhythm, generally being released in heavier amounts in the evening and then subsiding during the day. 

Other studies have displayed the ability of melatonin to relieve hypertension symptoms in multiple mouse models and in a baby sheep model. As part of the study, the scientists compared the blood of patients to that of healthy people and found that patients tended to have lower levels of melatonin during the day and higher levels of inflammatory cytokines.

Melatonin produced a diverse array of beneficial effects. These effects included:

  1. Protection against remodeling of blood vessels from the heart to the lungs
  2. Brought down right ventricular systolic pressure
  3. Brought down right ventricular hypertrophy
  4. Reduced the thickness of pulmonary artery walls

These effects signal that melatonin could be a useful treatment for pulmonary arterial hypertension, but at this juncture, further research will be necessary to confirm its impact.


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