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J Pineal Res. 2008 May;44(4):358-65. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-079X.2007.00535.x.

Effect of oral melatonin on the procoagulant response to acute psychosocial stress in healthy men: a randomized placebo-controlled study.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, University of Zurich, Switzerland.


Acute mental stress is a potent trigger of acute coronary syndromes. Catecholamine-induced hypercoagulability with acute stress contributes to thrombus growth after coronary plaque rupture. Melatonin may diminish catecholamine activity. We hypothesized that melatonin mitigates the acute procoagulant stress response and that this effect is accompanied by a decrease in the stress-induced catecholamine surge. Forty-five healthy young men received a single oral dose of either 3 mg melatonin (n = 24) or placebo medication (n = 21). One hour thereafter, they underwent a standardized short-term psychosocial stressor. Plasma levels of clotting factor VII activity (FVII:C), FVIII:C, fibrinogen, D-dimer, and catecholamines were measured at rest, immediately after stress, and 20 min and 60 min post-stress. The integrated change in D-dimer levels from rest to 60 min post-stress differed between medication groups controlling for demographic and metabolic factors (P = 0.047, eta(p)(2) = 0.195). Compared with the melatonin group, the placebo group showed a greater increase in absolute D-dimer levels from rest to immediately post-stress (P = 0.13; eta(p)(2) = 0.060) and significant recovery of D-dimer levels from immediately post-stress to 60 min thereafter (P = 0.007; eta(p)(2) = 0.174). Stress-induced changes in FVII:C, FVIII:C, fibrinogen, and catecholamines did not significantly differ between groups. Oral melatonin attenuated the stress-induced elevation in the sensitive coagulation activation marker D-dimer without affecting catecholamine activity. The finding provides preliminary support for a protective effect of melatonin in reducing the atherothrombotic risk with acute mental stress.

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