Melatonin patterns and levels during the human menstrual cycle and after menopause



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Journal Article

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Journal of the Endocrine Society





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Aging, Melatonin, Menopause, Menstrual cycle


Context: Melatonin may play a role in the regulation of the human menstrual cycle and may decline with menopause and/or aging. Objective: The objective of this work is to investigate the relations between melatonin and the menstrual cycle, menopause, and aging. Methods: This was a cross-sectional and longitudinal analysis of 20 participants from the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN) Daily Hormone Study (DHS). The outcome measure was first-morning urine assay of 6-sulfatoxymelatonin (aMT6s), a gauge of melatonin. For each participant, aMT6s was measured daily during one premenopausal cycle with evidence of luteal activity (ELA) and one postmenopausal collection with no evidence of luteal activity (NELA). Results: In addition to the organized patterns of hormone metabolites (estrone conjugates [E1c], and pregnanediol glucuronide [PdG]) and gonadotropins that characterized ovulatory menstrual cycles, there was a late luteal rise in aMT6s. In NELA collections, there was no periodicity of E1c, PdG, gonadotropins, or aMT6s.The strongest predictors of aMT6s levels were PdG values 11 to 12 days prior to aMT6s (β = 1.46, P = .001 and β = 1.44, P = .001, respectively). E1c and gonadotropins were not statistically significantly associated with aMT6s. Mean aMT6s in premenopause was 53.5 ng/mL, greater than the mean of 37.4 ng/mL in postmenopausal samples from the same women (P = .0002). Conclusions: This study confirms a late luteal melatonin rise, likely signaled by progesterone, which may influence menstrual cycle pacemaker control. Melatonin declined from premenopause to postmenopause. A high correlation between menopause transition stage and age precludes distinction between the influences of ovarian and chronological aging.

Open Access