Diurnal melatonin and cortisol secretion profiles in medicated schizophrenic patients

Hann Kuang Jiang, Jia Yi Wang

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22 Citations (Scopus)


Although melatonin and/or cortisol secretions have been suggested as markers for both circadian and noradrenaline dysfunctions in psychiatric illnesses, especially in affective disorders, studies of melatonin and cortisol in schizophrenic patients are rare. We evaluated the circadian profiles of melatonin and cortisol secretion in schizophrenic patients and control subjects. A total of 21 medicated Taiwanese male paranoid schizophrenic inpatients (mean age, 27.3 ± 7.2 yr) and 21 age- and sex- matched controls underwent 24-hour neuroendocrine screening. Melatonin and cortisol concentrations were measured at 2-hour intervals from 0800 h to 2200 h, and at 1-hour intervals from 2300 h to 0700 h. The standard dexamethasone suppression test was performed the next day to provide an index of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) function. The results showed that the circadian rhythm of plasma melatonin secretion was disrupted in schizophrenics compared with controls, whereas the 24-hour profile of plasma cortisol was preserved. The melatonin to cortisol ratio was significantly higher in control subjects than in schizophrenic patients. Results of the dexamethasone suppression tests indicated that there were no functional changes in the HPA axis in schizophrenic patients. Five drug-naive schizophrenic patients studied simultaneously, but whose data were not included in the above analyses, had results consistent with those of the maintenance-medicated patients. Our findings suggest the presence of abnormal melatonin metabolism in Taiwanese schizophrenics, which may possibly be related to the pathophysiologic process itself. However, broader pathogenetic aspects of these neuroendocrine interrelations remain to be clarified.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)830-837
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the Formosan Medical Association = Taiwan yi zhi
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Cortisol
  • Dexamethasone suppression test
  • Melatonin
  • Schizophrenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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