• Pathophysiology of Depression: Molecular Regulation of Melatonin Homeostasis - Current Status.

      Dmitrzak-Weglarz, Monika; Reszka, Edyta; Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine (2017)
      Circadian rhythm alterations resulting in disturbed sleep and disturbed melatonin secretion are flagship features of depression. Melatonin, known as a hormone of darkness, is secreted by the pineal gland located near to the center of the brain between the two hemispheres. Melatonin has an antidepressant effect by maintaining the body's circadian rhythm, by regulating the pattern of expression of the clock genes in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) and modifying the key genes of serotoninergic neurotransmission that are linked with a depressive mood. Melatonin is produced via the metabolism of serotonin in two steps which are catalyzed by serotonin N-acetyltransferase (SNAT) and acetylserotonin-O-methyltransferase (ASMT). Serotonin, SNAT, and ASMT are key melatonin level regulation factors. Melatonin acts mainly on the MT1 and MT2 receptors, which are present in the SCN, to regulate physiological and neuroendocrine functions including circadian entrainment, referred to as a chronobiotic effect. Although melatonin has been known about and refereed to for almost 50 years, the relationship between melatonin and depression is still not clear. In this review, we summarize current knowledge about the genetic and epigenetic regulation of enzymes involved in melatonin synthesis and metabolism as potential features of depression pathophysiology and treatment. Confirmation that melatonin metabolism in peripheral blood partially reflects a disorder in the brain could be a breakthrough in the standardization of measurements of melatonin level for the development of treatment standards, finding new therapeutic targets, and elaborating simple noninvasive clinical tests.