Study Finds Link Between Melatonin And Glucose Intolerance


A distinctive trial reveals that melatonin supplements, also regarded as anti-insomniac agents, are not associated with exacerbation of glucose intolerance in type 2 diabetic patients. The study was originally conducted by Tuomi and colleagues and is presented by Dr Shanta J Persaud and Dr Peter M Jones in their research article published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The study reported that genetic variation being a principal factor in making diabetes a heritable disease, it also accounts for exacerbating insulin resistance by a number of mechanisms, one of which has been unraveled lately by the present trial.

The study discovered a new gene variant, MTNR1B, a gene that is responsible for encoding of specific receptors — the MT2 receptors on islet cells of pancreas that are responsible for insulin secretion. Patients who have inherited this variant or mutated MTNR 1B gene are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This variant gene is responsible for over expression or abundance of MT2 receptors on the surface islet cells of pancreas, a primary causative element for the aggravating effect of melatonin.

MT2 receptors are activated by fluctuating levels of melatonin which is a hormone derived from pineal gland that is primarily accountable for normal sleep patterns but is also engaged in inhibition of insulin secretion following glucose metabolism.

Melatonin activates MT2 receptors by binding to these receptors on the surface of islet cells. Over expression of this receptor in type 2 diabetics due to variant MTNR1B makes them increasingly susceptible to the effects of melatonin.

This implies that type 2 diabetic patients are more prone to fluctuations in melatonin levels and the inhibitory effect of melatonin on insulin secretion is further aggravated, that is, insulin secretion is extremely reduced in type 2 diabetics. The melatonin inhibitory effect on insulin secretion is facilitated due to over expression of MT2 receptors since a large number of receptors are available for melatonin to act upon in type 2 diabetic patient.

However, in order to validate this finding, Tuomi and his colleagues conducted a trial in type 2 diabetic patients to unknot the link between melatonin and its effect on MT2 receptors and insulin secretion. The researchers reported that administration of 4mg of melatonin supplements in such patient population over a span of three months only revealed an innocuous effect of melatonin supplements on insulin secretion, implying that no significant impairment in glucose tolerance occurred.

The findings disclosed no difference between baseline glucose levels and the post-melatonin glucose levels. However, the study did indicate that glucose levels rose upon ingestion of melatonin supplements, only to return to normal within 2 hours following the melatonin dosing.

These findings are favorable with respect to type 2 diabetic subjects as this patient population suffers from insomnia which can be regarded as only one of the multiple adversities associated with this chronic condition.

Further documentation by the study indicates that the melatonin supplements are unlikely to cause any effect on insulin secretion as an anti-insomniac agent in type 2 diabetics, since the normal dose is even less than 4mg daily, the dose employed in the trial. This suggests that type 2 diabetic patients can also consume these supplements without any risk of detrimental effects on insulin secretion.

Melatonin supplements are mostly consumed by insomniacs or as a treatment option for jetlag. It is mainly secreted at night from the pineal gland for the maintenance of normal sleep patterns. Any alteration or disruption in normal sleep patterns either may be due to shift work or by being a late night junkie adversely effects the secretion pattern of this hormone and makes the person susceptible to type 2 diabetes. To be exactly clear, the research proclaims that people with disrupted sleep patterns are subject to the risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in the life as melatonin secretion patterns are highly disturbed by irregular sleep patterns.

This is an interesting finding since obesity or genetic variation are considered as two most fundamental causes of acquiring type 2 diabetes with age. In fact, research has established that at least 150 risk alleles or gene variants have been discovered for type 2 diabetes that make a person highly predisposed to the development of type2 diabetes.

Moreover, with regards to managing the disease, the practitioners are more focused on maintaining healthy lifestyle which is primarily targeted towards being physically active besides taking the medicines at their appropriate time.

But since the present research also regards abnormal sleep patterns as one of the perpetrators of type 2 diabetes, treatment or management of the condition should also be very much focused on keeping up healthy sleep patterns to avoid budding up of this condition in later ages. This practice should also be very much executed by the affecters of type 2 diabetes in order to circumvent the aggravation of diabetic condition.

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