Physiological Levels of Melatonin Relate to Cognitive Function and Depressive Symptoms: The HEIJO-KYO Cohort.
J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2015 Jun 8:jc20151859. Epub 2015 Jun 8. PMID: 26052727
CONTEXT: In contrast with randomized controlled trials, observational studies have suggested that physiological levels of melatonin are reduced in patients with dementia or depression but the relationship has not been evaluated in large populations.
OBJECTIVE: To determine the relationships between physiological levels of melatonin and cognitive function and depressive symptoms.
DESIGN AND PARTCIPANTS: A cohort of 1105 community-dwelling elderly individuals was enrolled in this cross-sectional study (mean age, 71.8± 7.1 years).
MEASURES: Urinary 6-sulfatoxymelatonin excretion (UME) and Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE, n=935) and Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS, n=1097) scores were measured as indices of physiological melatonin levels, cognitive function, and depressive symptoms, respectively.
RESULTS: With increases in UME quartiles, prevalence of cognitive impairment (MMSE score≤26) and depressed mood (GDS score ≥6) significantly decreased (P for trend=0.003 and 0.012, respectively). In multivariate logistic regression models, after adjusting for confounders such as age, gender, socioeconomic status, physical activity, and sleep/wake cycles, higher UME levels were significantly associated with lower odds ratios (ORs) for cognitive impairment and depressed mood (ORs: Q1=1.00; Q2=0.88 and 0.76; Q3=0.66 and 0.85; Q4=0.67 and 0.53; P for trend=0.023 and 0.033, respectively). In addition, the highest UME group showed a significantly lower OR for depressed mood than the lowest UME group (Q4 vs. Q1: OR, 0.53, 95% confidence interval, 0.32-0.89, P=0.033). UME levels above the median value were significantly associated with a lower OR for cognitive impairment, even after further adjustment for depressive symptoms (OR=0.74; 95% confidence interval, 0.55-0.99; P=0.043).
CONCLUSIONS: Significant associations of higher physiological melatonin levels with lower prevalence of cognitive impairment and depressed mood were revealed in a large general elderly population. The association between physiological melatonin levels and cognitive function was independent of depressive symptoms.