BACKGROUND: The search for new Alzheimer's disease (AD) cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and blood biomarkers with potential pathophysiological and clinical relevance continues, as new biomarkers might lead to improved early and differential diagnosis, monitoring of disease progression and might even identify new druggable targets. Melatonin might be an interesting biomarker as an inverse correlation between CSF melatonin levels, and severity of the neuropathology as measured by Braak stages has been described. Melatonin can be measured in different body fluids, such as CSF, blood, saliva and urine.
OBJECTIVES: The aim of this systematic review was to review all available studies regarding melatonin levels in different body fluids in the AD continuum and give an extensive overview of reported outcomes.
METHODS: We included papers comparing melatonin levels between healthy controls and human patients belonging to the AD continuum. A systematic search of PubMed and Web of Science led to inclusion of 20 full-length English papers following exclusion of duplicates.
RESULTS: This systematic literature search showed that disruptions in melatonin levels occur with age, but also in AD when compared to age-matched controls. Night-time melatonin levels were found to be lower in CSF and blood of AD patients as compared to controls. Literature was not conclusive regarding alterations in blood daytime melatonin levels or regarding saliva melatonin in AD patients. Decreased total and night-time melatonin production has been described in urine of AD patients.
CONCLUSION: Our systematic review shows evidence for disruptions in (night-time) melatonin levels in AD as compared to age-matched controls. Although more studies are needed to understand the contribution of disruption of the melatonergic system to the pathophysiology of AD, the potential anti-AD effects that have been attributed to melatonin, renders research on this topic relevant for the discovery of potential future treatment effects of melatonin for AD. The use of melatonin as potential blood biomarker for disease progression should also be further investigated.