Women with premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) experience mood deterioration and altered circadian rhythms during the luteal phase (LP) of their menstrual cycles. Disturbed circadian rhythms may be involved in the development of clinical mood states, though this relationship is not fully characterized in PMDD. We therefore conducted an extensive chronobiological characterization of the melatonin rhythm in a small group of PMDD women and female controls. In this pilot study, participants included five women with PMDD and five age-matched controls with no evidence of menstrual-related mood disorders. Participants underwent two 24-hour laboratory visits, during the follicular phase (FP) and LP of the menstrual cycle, consisting of intensive physiological monitoring under “unmasked”, time-isolation conditions. Measures included visual analogue scale for mood, ovarian hormones, and 24-hour plasma melatonin. Mood significantly (P≤.03) worsened during LP in PMDD compared to FP and controls. Progesterone was significantly (P = .025) increased during LP compared to FP, with no between-group differences. Compared to controls, PMDD women had significantly (P<.05) decreased melatonin at circadian phases spanning the biological night during both menstrual phases and reduced amplitude of its circadian rhythm during LP. PMDD women also had reduced area under the curve of melatonin during LP compared to FP. PMDD women showed affected circadian melatonin rhythms, with reduced nocturnal secretion and amplitude during the symptomatic phase compared to controls. Despite our small sample size, these pilot findings support a role for disturbed circadian rhythms in affective disorders. Possible associations with disrupted serotonergic transmission are proposed.
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Date Published: 19-December-2012
Author(s): Shechter A., Lespérance P., Ng Ying Kin N., Boivin D.