major depressive syndrome
Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract During the last decade we have learned much on physiological changes in the secretion of the pineal hormone melatonin (MLT) in man. Reportedly, there is little or no MLT secreted before age 3 months. Then MLT production commences, becmes circadian, and reaches highest nocturnal levels at the age of 1–3 years. During all of childhood nocturnal peak levles drop progressively by 80% until adult levels are reached. This alteration appears to be the consequence of increasing body size in face of constant MLT production during childhood. The biological significance of this MLT alteration is presently unknown. Because of conceptual considerations, major depressive syndrome (MDS) and seasonal affective disorder (SAD) have been in the focus of pineal research for several years. Although in these disorders alterations in MLT levels could not be substantiated, light therapy, a consequence of this research, was discovered as an effective treatment for SAD and perhaps for MDS. In addition, there is some recent evidence for low MLT levels in schizophrenia. Finally, the potential effect of MLT in neuroimmunoendocrine interactions is presently explored. Reportedly, in vitro studies and animal experiments give evidence for a modulatory role of MLT in the immune response. However, the exact way of this possible action of MLT remains to be clarified. Clinical studies are too scant for a meaningful estimation of MLT's involvement in human neuroimmunoendocrine interactions.
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