The melatonin , known as sleep hormone, may also have an important role in bone marrow transplantation and help in the treatment of serious diseases, according to new research.
The studies carried out at the USP Bioscience Institute and the Weizmann Institute of Israel, were published in the scientific journal Cell Stem Cell and showed that the hormone is able to regulate the production and availability of stem cells in the body.
Researchers already knew from previous studies that there is a relationship between melatonin and the ability of blood cells to move into healthy and infected tissues.
When there is an infection, the nocturnal production of melatonin is temporarily interrupted, which allows immune cells to reach the infected tissue and fight the invading agents.
Now, the new studies have identified that there are 2 peaks in the production of stem cells: at 11 am and 11 pm, being regulated by the transition from day to night. Since melatonin is in action with this transition, there is a relationship between cell production mediated by melatonin.
However, the researchers observed that the behavior of these cells from day and night was a little different: while those produced at 11 am turned into blood cells, those that were released at 11 pm were stored close to the bones, to be used in the future .
Based on the findings, the researchers injected the animals with melatonin to see if it was possible to reverse the peak production time and found that it is possible, causing the largest production of stem cells to occur in the morning instead of at night, as it is naturally.
With the result, new strategies to increase the efficiency of the collection of stem cells can be created, which could be controlled in a pharmacological way according to the research coordinator Regina Pekelmann Markus in an interview with Agência FAPESP.
How can the discovery help with transplantation?
Bone marrow transplantation is a treatment generally proposed for diseases that affect the blood, such as leukemia . But it can also help in people with severe aplastic anemia, myelodysplasias and lymphomas.
During the transplantation process, stem cells are introduced into the patient through a catheter. They reach the bones through the bloodstream and gradually form a new, healthier bone marrow.
With the results, the researchers believe that the collection and transplantation of stem cells can be improved, becoming increasingly efficient.
One of the options pointed out would be to collect donor cells during the day, as they will proliferate and form blood cells instead of being quickly stored near the bones.
Another alternative would be to change the melatonin cycle in the donor, through the injection of melatonin itself or molecules that regulate light and dark cycles.
The findings make it possible to optimize the results of bone marrow transplantation, improving the lives of patients.
Research in the health field has brought more and more hopes and improvements to the lives of patients who depend on medical treatments.