Melatonin as a Biological Marker in Schizophrenia

  • Armando L. Morera
  • Pedro Abreu-Gonzalez
  • Manuel Henry

It is widely accepted that schizophrenia is not a single disease but different subgroups of biological and clinically heterogeneous entities. There are no routine laboratory tests that could help clinicians in its diagnosis as in other diseases. The association between pineal gland and mental functions stems from Descartes. Melatonin is the main hormone of the pineal gland. The use of melatonin as a possible marker in schizophrenia has gone parallel with the development of laboratory techniques. It is not until the late seventies of the past century that such techniques were generalised. A common drawback of researching on this topic consists of studying melatonin levels in schizophrenic patients without having a clear hypothesis that would have had linked their results with the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. In this chapter the biosynthesis, receptor subtypes and functions of melatonin are highlighted and especially the role of melatonin as a possible biological marker in schizophrenia is reviewed. General research in this topic lacks of homogeneity concerning researching methodology. Several recommendations are made when researching in this area. Clear conclusions are drawn regarding the results from studies relating melatonin to schizophrenia. With the recent advent of new dregs targeting melatonin receptors we will assist to an explosion affecting basic as well as clinical research, rendering plausible important applications in the near future.

Keywords

Schizophrenia melatonin pineal gland biological markers 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Armando L. Morera
    • 1
  • Pedro Abreu-Gonzalez
    • 2
  • Manuel Henry
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Internal Medicine, Dermatology and Psychiatry, School of MedicineUniversity of La Laguna, La Laguna, Santa Cruz de TenerifeCanary IslandsSpain
  2. 2.Department of Physiology, School of MedicineUniversity of La Laguna, La Laguna, Santa Cruz de TenerifeCanary IslandsSpain

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