Melatonin supports lung function and reduces oxidative stress in subjects with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in March 2012. Melatonin is a hormone secreted from the pineal gland with beneficial antioxidant activity. Oxidative stress plays a significant role in the development of COPD.
Thirty-six subjects with moderate to severe COPD received 3 mg melatonin or placebo daily for three months. At the beginning of the study and again after each month, researchers evaluated 8-isoprostane levels (a marker of oxidative stress) in exhaled breath condensation. At baseline and again after three months, the investigators assessed lung function using spirometry (measures lung function), functional exercise capacity via the six minute walk test, severity of shortness of breath (dyspnea) and exhaled breath condensation levels of interleukin (IL-8), a marker of inflammation.
The researchers found that after two and three months, levels of 8-isoprostane decreased in the subjects receiving melatonin. In addition, researchers showed that dyspnea was reduced in the subjects supplemented with melatonin, although lung function and exercise capacity remained the same. IL-8 increased in the placebo group, but did not increase in the melatonin group.
The study authors stated, “In summary, melatonin administration reduced oxidative stress and improved dyspnea in COPD. Further studies are necessary to determine the potential role for melatonin in the long-term management of these patients.”
de Matos Cavalcante AG, et al. J Pineal Res. 2012 Mar 19. [Epub ahead of print.]