What do we know about melatonin against the coronavirus

What do we know about melatonin against the coronavirus

From statistical simulations and statistical data analysis, taking melatonin would appear to be associated with a 30% reduction in the risk of being positive for coronavirus. But for now there is no clear evidence that melatonin-based supplements have a protective effect

(photo: congerdesign via Pixabay) After lactoferrin and vitamin D, today another substance is being studied by scientists for its potential role against the Sars-Cov-2 coronavirus: it is melatonin. It is a hormone produced naturally by our body, which is essential for rest and the sleep-wake rhythm and which, according to a US study, could help lower the risk of contracting Covid-19 infection. The research, conducted by the Cleveland Clinic, a research center in Ohio, analyzed about 3,000 substances, identifying 34 of them of interest for their potential antiviral action and among these, in particular, melatonin. For now, however, there is no certain evidence that taking melatonin-based supplements provides any protection and therefore no indication

The research was born with a broader intent, namely to study the elements - the symptoms and mechanisms - that coronavirus infection has in common with other diseases, including cancers, respiratory, cardiovascular, autoimmune and neurological diseases. The goal is to understand if and which therapies already existing and used in other diseases can also help against Covid-19. The results are published in Plos Biology.

Covid-19 and other diseases: the points in common

By now we know: the coronavirus not only affects the lungs, but also various other organs, such as the heart, the brain, the skin, kidneys, liver and other systems, not to mention that recovered patients sometimes have symptoms even in the following months (the so-called long Covid). Given that the new coronavirus seems to act on multiple fronts, researchers have wondered if there may be some commonalities between Covid-19 and diseases that affect the same organs affected by the coronavirus. The researchers found that inflammatory bowel disease, asthma, BPCO, pulmonary fibrosis, depression and attention deficit / hyperactivity disorder appear to have something in common with Covid-19 - all in terms of pathological mechanisms. -biological. Also starting from this result, the specialists wondered if and which drugs and substances approved for use could have some effect against the new virus.

Melatonin

Researchers used a new algorithm based on artificial intelligence, developed by the Lerner Research Institute of the Cleveland Clinic, to study more than 3,000 molecules and drugs approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and which could have effects against the Sars-Cov coronavirus -2. The principles have not been tested in studies directly on patients, but through computational simulations and the results were subsequently validated by the analysis of data from a large register of patients (almost 5 thousand people). After excluding various confounding factors, such as the presence of other diseases, being smokers and more, the researchers realized that 34 molecules could also be beneficial against Covid-19. In particular, the data found that the intake of melatonin was associated with a 28% reduction in the risk of testing positive for coronavirus. The result seems to indicate that melatonin may have some role, although there is still no certainty and more studies will be needed to confirm this.

"It is very important to note that these results do not suggest that people they should start taking melatonin without consulting their doctor ", emphasizes Feixiong Cheng, who coordinated the study, and that to date there is no clinical indication that supplementing the substance can help prevent or fight Covid-19 . This is also because the data are for now statistical and no cause-effect link has been found between melatonin and infection. Only future structured research and clinical studies on patients will eventually be able to validate the possible advantage of melatonin, continues the researcher, who points out the importance of this first result for conducting further investigations.

The mechanisms

The link between melatonin and coronavirus is yet to be explored, although researchers have identified some physiological processes that could come into play. The substance could benefit elderly patients, among other things more at risk of severe Covid-19 forms, given that in old age its natural production is reduced. Furthermore, melatonin suppresses some inflammatory processes, including in the lungs, for example by increasing the anti-inflammatory cytokines Il-10 or Il-6. Therefore, according to the authors, conducting other studies on melatonin could be important.



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