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Physiol Behav. 2003 Oct;80(1):9-18.

Effect of melatonin on total food intake and macronutrient choice in rats.

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  • 1School of Dietetics and Human Nutrition, Macdonald Campus of McGill University, 21,111 Lakeshore Road, Quebec, H9X 3V9, Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, Canada.

Abstract

Melatonin, a hormone secreted in a rhythmic manner over 24 h mainly by the pineal gland, is used to alleviate the symptoms of jetlag and treat sleeping problems. The objective of the present study was to examine the effects of a 7-h phase-shift from the natural peak of melatonin secretion on total food intake and macronutrient selection. Forty-eight adult Wistar rats of both sexes were divided in three dietary groups, each group offered a simultaneous and different choice of a carbohydrate- and a protein-rich diet. Macronutrient intakes following intraperitoneal administration of four doses of melatonin (3000, 6000, 10000 and 15000 pg/ml blood) at dark onset were examined. Melatonin increased short- (4 h postinjection) and long-term (12 h postinjection) nocturnal total food intake in both male and female rats, mainly with the two highest doses. This effect of melatonin was mainly due to a short-term increase of intake across all carbohydrate-rich diet preparations (dextrin/cornstarch, cornstarch, and sucrose/cornstarch) and across genders. This consistent effect of melatonin on the intake of carbohydrate-rich diets with contrasting sensory attributes rules out the possibility that melatonin acts on sensorymotor pathways, thus suggesting that melatonin's effect on food intake is controlled by the carbohydrate content of the diet. In contrast, melatonin could be affecting some sensory or motor processes peculiar to the ingestion of protein since it increased protein-rich diet intake inconsistently across the various preparations (casein, soy isolate, and egg protein) as well as genders. This evidence supports the view that melatonin acts as a time indicator, reinforcing the animals with a "night cue", and favors predominant carbohydrate intake normally occurring at the beginning of the activity period.

PMID:
14568303
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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