Spanish scientists from the University of Granada Institute for Neuroscience, Madrid, and the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio (USA) have solved the unknown riddle of why melatonin has metabolic benefits in treating diabetes and hyperlipidemia.They have discovered that melatonin intake helps control weight gain as it stimulates the ‘beige fat’, a type of fat cell that burns calories in vivo instead of storing them.The findings suggest that Melatonin may be used for treatment of obesity and may prevent cardiovascular diseases associated with obesity and dyslipidemia.The study has been published in the Journal of Pineal Research.
Melatonin is a hormone made by the pineal gland, a pea-sized gland found just above the middle of brain. It helps the body know when it’s time to sleep and wake up.The melatonin levels generally increase in the dark at night. In addition to natural production by pineal gland it is found in small quantities in fruit and vegetables like mustard, , almonds, sunflower seeds,Goji berries, cardamom, fennel, coriander and cherries.
These findings in addition to the pharmacologically safe profile of melatonin may herald use of a new potentially useful tool to complement the treatment of obesity. This implies that sleeping in the dark and consuming these foodstuffs could help control weight gain and prevent cardiovascular diseases associated with obesity and dyslipidemia.
Dr.Ahmad Agil and associates have shown that chronic administration of melatonin sensitizes the thermogenic effect of exposure to cold, heightens the thermogenic effect of exercise and, therefore, constitutes excellent therapy against obesity. The fact is that one of the key differences between ‘beige fat’, which appears when administering melatonin, and ‘white fat’, is that ‘beige fat’ cell mitochondria express levels of UCP1 protein, responsible for burning calories and generating heat.
Considering the importance of this discovery, the researchers are confident that they will be able to generate resources to continue their work and be able to achieve their final objective to confirm these findings in humans, by administering melatonin to help combat obesity and diabetes.
- Aroa Jiménez-Aranda, Gumersindo Fernández-Vázquez, Daniel Campos, Mohamed Tassi, Lourdes Velasco-Perez, Tx Tan, Russel J. Reiter and Ahmad Agil. Melatonin induces browning of inguinal white adipose tissue in diabetic fatty zucker rats. Journal of Pineal Research, 2013; September DOI: 10.1111/jpr.12089