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MS and Melatonin

September 21, 2015

Melatonin could explain why MS symptoms change with the seasons.



11523508206_06959f3148_z Blondinrikard Fröberg CC BY 2.0 via flickr

(Blondinrikard Fröberg/CC BY 2.0 via flickr)

Melatonin and MS. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Many people with multiple sclerosis experience decreased symptoms during the fall and winter. After ruling out environmental factors such as changes in vitamin D or exposure to ultraviolet light, researchers in the U.S. and Argentina think they’ve hit upon an explanation: the hormone melatonin. Brigham and Women’s Hospital neurologist Francisco Quintana led the study, published in the journal Cell.

FRANCISCO QUINTANA (Brigham and Women’s Hospital):

Melatonin is associated with the sleep cycle. In the winter, when the nights are longer, when you have the lowest disease activity, you have the highest levels of melatonin.


In lab studies, Quintana and his team found that melatonin suppresses MS by fighting inflammation. He says the next step is to develop therapeutic drugs based on the hormone, but strongly cautions against self-treatment with melatonin. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

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Quintana’s research team included: Mauricio F. Farez, Ivan D. Mascanfroni, Santiago P. Méndez-Huergo, Gabriel A. Rabinovich, Francisco J. Quintana, and Jorge Correale.