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Eur J Endocrinol. 1999 Jul;141(1):22-6.

Exercise-induced GH secretion is enhanced by the oral ingestion of melatonin in healthy adult male subjects.

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Department of Endocrinology, St Thomas' Hospital, United Medical and Dental Schools of Guy's and St Thomas' Hospitals, London, UK.


There is evidence that melatonin may play a role in modulating pituitary secretion, although the mechanisms are unclear. We examined the effects of a single dose of oral melatonin (5mg) on exercise-induced GH secretion. In a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, seven healthy male subjects undertook an initial period of graded bicycle ergometric exercise to determine maximum workload and oxygen uptake (VO(2max)). Subjects were subsequently studied on two further occasions, receiving either melatonin or placebo in random order at the onset of each study (-60min). At 0 min a period of bicycle exercise was performed for 8 min at a workload corresponding to 70% of that achieved at VO(2max). Serum GH and IGF-binding protein-1 (IGFBP-1) concentration was measured at 15-min intervals from the onset of the study until 120 min post-exercise. Blood was also sampled for the measurement of plasma glucose, insulin, non-esterified fatty acids, IGFBP-3, melatonin and vasopressin concentration. There was an exercise-induced increase in GH concentration following melatonin which was greater compared with placebo as assessed by both area under the curve (P<0.01) and peak increase in GH levels (P<0.01). The peak increase in IGFBP-1 levels post-exercise was also significantly greater following melatonin compared with placebo (P<0. 01) but did not quite reach levels of significance as measured by area under the curve (P=0.07). Since exercise-induced GH secretion is thought to be mediated predominantly through a hypothalamic pathway, it seems likely that melatonin facilitates GH secretion at a hypothalamic level.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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