Melatonin Supplements May Reduce, Prevent Chronic Inflammation in Elderly

May 24, 2016

By Rob Goodier

NEW YORK - Melatonin supplements appear to reduce markers of inflammation and may treat and even help prevent inflammatory disorders in the elderly, according to a new meta-analysis.

"Melatonin has potential to reduce inflammation, and as it is commonly used as a sleep aid, it could also possibly be having these additional beneficial effects, without any adverse effects that we know of," lead researcher Saumya Bhutani, a medical student at Stony Brook University School of Medicine in New York, told Reuters Health by email.

"The most important next step is to continue to research the potential for melatonin to be used as an anti-inflammatory drug," said Bhutani, who presented the results May 20 at the American Geriatrics Society annual meeting in Long Beach, California.

The researchers identified 16 randomized, controlled trials with melatonin and found that the supplement was linked to a decline in the inflammation markers interleukin-6, by a standard mean difference of -5.97, tumor necrosis factor-alpha by -2.30, C-reactive protein by -3.05, and interleukin-8 by -21.06.

In an attempt to avoid publication bias, the team dropped the studies with large effect sizes and found that significant declines remained in interleukin-6, at a standard mean deviation of -1.33 and interleukin-8 of -13.46, but not for tumor necrosis factor-alpha or C-reactive protein.

Incidentally, human trials of melatonin are not common, the researchers note, and the dosages in those found for this analysis were scattered, ranging from 3mg to 10mg orally and 11mg to 200mg intravenously.

"Melatonin does appear effective and safe, thus is worth trying if patients feel interested and able to do so. I'm not sure it can prevent aging-associated inflammation but may help reduce or delay it," says Dr. Benjamin Bensadon, an assistant professor of clinical biomedical science at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida.

"Stress also induces inflammation and geriatric anxiety is nationally prevalent. Combing pharmacological and behavioral therapy would be optimal," Dr. Bensadon says.


American Geriatrics Society 2016.


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