Nocturnal plasma melatonin levels after flunitrazepam administration in healthy subjects.Eur Neuropsychopharmacol 1996; 6(2):149-53EN
Polysomnographic sleep patterns and melatonin secretion were investigated in 5 young (age 25.6 +/- 1.1 years) and 5 middle-aged (age 49.4 +/- 5.4 years) healthy male subjects after intravenous administration of 1 mg flunitrazepam and placebo in a randomized, double-blind and cross-over setting. The area under the curve (AUC) of total nocturnal melatonin plasma concentration decreased 23.3 +/- 11.5% in young subjects (P < or = 0.05) and 39.3 +/- 5.2% in middle-aged subjects (P < or = 0.05) after flunitrazepam infusion compared with placebo infusion. Differences in nocturnal peak values of melatonin were 5.4 +/- 22.0% in young subjects (not significant) and 34.0 +/- 14.7% in middle-aged subjects (p < or = 0.05). Flunitrazepam significantly (P < or = 0.05) improved sleep latency and the number of sleep stage changes in the group of all subjects. These results show that, although the benzodiazepine flunitrazepam improves sleep, it reduces the nocturnal secretion of melatonin, and therefore alters the circadian rhythm of a hormone which is supposed to play a special role in circadian sleep-wake rhythmicity.