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Can melatonin prevent or improve metabolic side effects during antipsychotic treatments?

Authors Porfirio MC, Gomes de Almeida JP, Stornelli M, Giovinazzo S, Purper-Ouakil D, Masi G

Received 13 November 2016

Accepted for publication 27 January 2017

Published 10 August 2017 Volume 2017:13 Pages 2167—2174


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Roger Pinder

Maria-Cristina Porfirio,1 Juliana Paula Gomes de Almeida,2 Maddalena Stornelli,1 Silvia Giovinazzo,1 Diane Purper-Ouakil,3 Gabriele Masi4

1Unit of Child Neurology and Psychiatry, “Tor Vergata” University of Rome, Italy; 2Unit of Child Neurology, Irmandade Santa Casa de Misericordia Hospital São Paulo, Brazil; 3Unit of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Saint Eloi Hospital, Montpellier, France; 4IRCCS Stella Maris, Scientific Institute of Child Neurology and Psychiatry, Calambrone, Pisa, Italy

Abstract: In the last two decades, second-generation antipsychotics (SGAs) were more frequently used than typical antipsychotics for treating both psychotic and nonpsychotic psychiatric disorders in both children and adolescents, because of their lower risk of adverse neurological effects, that is, extrapyramidal symptoms. Recent studies have pointed out their effect on weight gain and increased visceral adiposity as they induce metabolic syndrome. Patients receiving SGAs often need to be treated with other substances to counteract metabolic side effects. In this paper, we point out the possible protective effect of add-on melatonin treatment in preventing, mitigating, or even reversing SGAs metabolic effects, improving quality of life and providing safer long-term treatments in pediatric patients. Melatonin is an endogenous indolamine secreted during darkness by the pineal gland; it plays a key role in regulating the circadian rhythm, generated by the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) of the hypothalamus, and has many other biological functions, including chronobiotic, antioxidant and neuroprotective properties, anti-inflammatory and free radical scavenging effects, and diminishing oxidative injury and fat distribution. It has been hypothesized that SGAs cause adverse metabolic effects that may be restored by nightly administration of melatonin because of its influence on autonomic and hormonal outputs. Interestingly, atypical anti-psychotics (AAPs) can cause several sleep disorders, and circadian misalignment can influence hormones involved in the metabolic regulation, such as insulin, leptin, and ghrelin; furthermore, a relationship between obesity and sleep curtailment has been demonstrated, as well as sleep deprivation in rats has been associated with hyperphagia. Metabolic effects of melatonin, both central and peripheral, direct and indirect, target most metabolic disorders reported during and after SGA treatment in children, adolescents, and adults. Further systematic studies on psychiatric patients are needed to explore the effect of add-on melatonin on metabolic side effects of SGAs, independent of energy intake, diet, and exercise.

Keywords: melatonin, metabolic syndrome, second-generation antipsychotics

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