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Melatonin attenuates antipsychotic metabolic effects: an eight-week randomized, double-blind, parallel-group, placebo-controlled clinical trial.

OBJECTIVE: Second-generation antipsychotics (SGAs) are among the first-line treatments for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, but have a tendency to generate metabolic disturbances. These features resemble a metabolic syndrome for which a central autonomic imbalance has been proposed that may originate from the hypothalamic suprachiasmatic nuclei. In a clinical trial, we hypothesized that melatonin, a hormone that regulates the suprachiasmatic nucleus, could attenuate SGA-induced adverse metabolic effects.

METHODS: In an eight-week, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, parallel-group clinical trial, we evaluated the metabolic effect of melatonin in SGA-treated patients in terms of weight, blood pressure, lipid, glucose, body composition, and anthropometric measures. A total of 44 patients treated with SGAs, 20 with bipolar disorder and 24 with schizophrenia, randomly received placebo (n = 24) or melatonin 5 mg (n = 20).

RESULTS: The melatonin group showed a decrease in diastolic blood pressure (5.1 versus 1.1 mmHg for placebo, p = 0.003) and attenuated weight gain (1.5 versus 2.2 kg for placebo, F = 4.512, p = 0.040) compared to the placebo group. The strong beneficial metabolic effects of melatonin in comparison to placebo on fat mass (0.2 versus 2.7 kg, respectively, p = 0.032) and diastolic blood pressure (5.7 versus 5.5 mmHg, respectively, p = 0.001) were observed in the bipolar disorder and not in the schizophrenia group. No adverse events were reported.

CONCLUSIONS: Our results show that melatonin is effective in attenuating SGAs' adverse metabolic effects, particularly in bipolar disorder. The clinical findings allow us to propose that SGAs may disturb a centrally mediated metabolic balance that causes adverse metabolic effects and that nightly administration of melatonin helps to restore. Melatonin could become a safe and cost-effective therapeutic option to attenuate or prevent SGA metabolic effects.

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