2001 年 30 巻 1-2 号 p. 273-278
Although melatonin has an important physiological role in the facilitation of sleep, its precise mechanism of action is not clear. To investigate the potential contribution of melatonin to influence cardiac autonomic activity in the evening, 16 young healthy subjects participated in a repeated measures design where cardiac autonomic activity, heart rate and blood pressure were examined during three experimental conditions. An initial baseline condition involved dim light exposure (<10 lux), permitting the normal nocturnal rise in endogenous melatonin. In other sessions, subjects were exposed to bright light (>3000 lux) to suppress melatonin secretion and administered a placebo or melatonin (5 mg) capsule at the estimated time of increase in endogenous melatonin (wake time + 14 hours). Heart rate, pre-ejection period (a measure of cardiac sympathetic activity) and respiratory sinus arrhythmia (a measure of parasympathetic activity) were not significantly altered in response to the three melatonin levels. While melatonin had no effect on diastolic blood pressure, systolic blood pressure was maximally decreased by 6 ± 1.93 mmHg (mean ± SEM, p<0.005) 150 minutes after exogenous melatonin. The results indicate that melatonin does not directly modulate cardiac autonomic activity, but may rather act directly on the cardiovascular system.