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December 1990

Altered Waveform of Plasma Nocturnal Melatonin Secretion in Premenstrual Depression

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1990;47(12):1139-1146. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1990.01810240059010

• The nocturnal secretion of plasma melatonin was determined under dim to dark conditions in eight patients with prospectively confirmed premenstrual syndrome and in eight ageand menstrual cycle phase—matched normal control subjects. Plasma samples for melatonin were collected every 30 minutes from 6 PM to 9 AM during the early follicular, late follicular, midluteal, and late luteal phases of the menstrual cycle. Compared with normal controls, patients with premenstrual syndrome had an earlier (phase-advanced) offset of melatonin secretion, which contributed to a shorter secretion duration and a decreased area under the curve. No statistically significant differences were found between women with premenstrual syndrome and normal controls for melatonin onset or peak concentration, or for estradiol or progesterone levels. The data demonstrate that women with premenstrual syndrome have chronobiological abnormalities of melatonin secretion. The fact that these patients respond to treatments that affect circadian physiology, such as sleep deprivation and phototherapy, suggests that circadian abnormalities may contribute to the pathogenesis of premenstrual syndrome.