Medical professionals have found that the melatonin levels of Parkinson’s patients impact their symptoms, specifically the gastrointestinal, sleep disturbance, and cardiac symptoms. Parkinson’s News Today reported on a study that investigated exactly how melatonin affects this disease.
About Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder that affects the central nervous system (CNS). It is characterized by its effect on movement through five different stages. As the disease progresses, severity increases.
- Stage one is characterized by subtle tremors on one side of the body.
- In stage two symptoms are more noticeable, with tremors and rigidity on both sides of the body.
- Stage three brings loss of balance and slow movement.
- Stage four makes it impossible for one to live independently.
- Stage five is the most severe, as patients cannot stand or walk. Hallucinations and delusions are common symptoms of this stage.
Parkinson’s disease occurs due to the death of motor neurons, some of which produce dopamine. Dopamine is important in the transmittance of messages to the muscles from the brain, so the loss of dopamine results in the loss of motor functions. Abnormal brain activity occurs when these neurons are lost. Doctors do not know why these motor neurons die, but they do suspect a few factors that play a role, such as genetics, environmental factors like toxins, and Lewy bodies. There are no FDA approved therapies for Parkinson’s, and treatment is symptomatic. Treatment options include dopamine substitutes, carbidopa-levodopa, MAO-B inhibitors, catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) inhibitors, anticholinergics, and amantadine.
About the Study
Melatonin plays a role in regulating the body’s circadian rhythm, along with controlling the production of other hormones, influencing cognitive performance and one’s mood, and regulating body temperature. Because it plays such an important role in the body, researchers wanted to discover its effects on the non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s.
To accomplish this, they measured the melatonin in the blood of 61 patients with Parkinson’s and 58 healthy participants. These samples were collected in the dark after participants had fasted for 12 hours, and they were then tested using a enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Researchers then assessed the Parkinson’s symptoms, which was accomplished through the use of the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, the Epworth Sleepiness Scale, and other widely used tests.
The results showed that those affected by Parkinson’s had a higher level of melatonin in their blood. Within the Parkinson’s group, lower levels of melatonin were associated with non-motor symptoms. Further research found that these levels may be caused by the treatment of dopaminergic drugs, such as levodopa.
Although melatonin levels were found to have an impact on sleep disturbances, cardiac symptoms, and gastrointestinal symptoms, researchers found no such impact on other non-motor effects. Beyond these symptoms, there was also no link between melatonin levels and disease severity.
Researchers say that there needs to be further investigation into melatonin and its links to Parkinson’s, but the results of this study have taught us a lot. Hopefully this new information will lead to better treatments.