• melatonin;
  • 5-mehoxytryptophol;
  • age;
  • humans;
  • children;
  • puberty

Abstract: It seems clear that the pineal hormone, melatonin (N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine), is involved in the reproductive behavior of several animal species including humans. Moreover, several data also support a role for 5-methoxytryptophol (ML), another pineal hormone, in the control of sexual processes. To test the role of ML in human reproductive axis, 128 healthy children, 68 boys and 60 girls, were studied. Each of these groups was divided in three age subgroups of 6, 11, and 14 years. A single blood sample (0900 hours) was obtained from each subject to determine melatonin, ML, FSH, LH, estradiol (girls), and testoterone (boys) by RIA. Statistical analysis of the data included ANOVA-II (factor I: age, factor II: sex) and an analysis of covariance with age as covariate. A similar plasma melatonin concentration, with a significant decrease between 6 and 11 years, was found in boys and girls. Melatonin concentrations correlate well with initiation of the pubertal development in these children, although no sex differences were found. Concentrations of ML are approximately 50% of those of melatonin. In contrast to melatonin, ML levels show significant age and sex differences. Plasma ML concentration significantly increased in boys (P < 0.001) and decreased in girls (P < 0.001) after 8 years of age. These results support the hypothesis that, besides melatonin, other pineal compounds such as ML may be involved in the maturation process in humans. The pineal indole ML may also be used as a marker of the different chronobiology in the pubertal development in boys and girls.