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Am Heart J. 2001 May;141(5):E9.

Acute effects of melatonin administration on cardiovascular autonomic regulation in healthy men.

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Department of Cardiovascular Medicine, Kumamoto University School of Medicine, Japan.



Previous studies have suggested that melatonin, a major pineal hormone, possibly modulates the autonomic nervous system in animals. The aim of this study was to examine the effects of melatonin administration on heart rate variability (HRV) in human beings.


In 26 healthy men, melatonin (2 mg) or placebo was randomly administered. Power spectral analysis of HRV and blood pressure monitoring were performed in the supine position before and 60 minutes after administration and in the standing position 60 minutes after administration. Plasma catecholamine levels were also assessed.


No differences in any baseline parameters were found between the two groups. Compared with placebo, melatonin administration within 60 minutes increased R-R interval, the square root of the mean of the squared differences between adjacent normal R-R intervals, high-frequency power, and low-frequency power of HRV and decreased the low-frequency to high-frequency ratio and blood pressure in the supine position (all P <.01). Plasma norepinephrine and dopamine levels in the supine position 60 minutes after melatonin administration were lower compared with placebo (P <.05 and P <.01, respectively). Standing up resulted in the decrease of HRV and the increase of blood pressure and plasma catecholamine levels in both administration groups, and the differences between the groups found in the supine position disappeared.


These findings indicate that melatonin administration increased cardiac vagal tone in the supine position in awake men. Melatonin administration also may exert suppressive effects on sympathetic tone.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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