Gender-related differences in urinary 6-sulfatoxymelatonin levels in obese pubertal individuals


Address reprint requests to Dr Hugo L. Fideleff, Departmento de Endocrinología, Hospital T. Alvarez, Aranguren 2701, 1406 Buenos Aires, Argentina.


Abstract:  The objective of this study was to measure the urinary excretion of the main melatonin metabolite 6-sulfatoxymelatonin in obese and normal weight (wt) boys and girls. The study included 94 subjects, aged 4–15.7 yr (50 obese and 44 normal wt; 48 boys) classified as: mid-childhood (4–7.99 yr), late-childhood (8–12 yr) and pubertal (10.1–15.7 yr, Tanner II–IV). Normal wt subjects were children with a body mass index (BMI) between the 25th and 75th percentiles, and the group of obese subjects included children whose BMI was above the 97th percentile. A 24-hr urine sample was collected during two intervals: (i) 18:00–08:00 hr, and (ii) 08:00–18:00 hr. Analysis of urinary 6-sulfatoxymelatonin levels was performed by radioimmunoassay. Excretion of 6-sulfatoxymelatonin was expressed as: (i) total amount excreted (μg); (ii) μg excreted per time interval, nocturnal or diurnal; and (iii) the difference between nocturnal and diurnal samples (μg, estimated amplitude). A factorial analysis of variance indicated that nocturnal 6-sulfatoxymelatonin excretion and amplitude were significantly higher in the obese individuals. A significant interaction ‘BMI × age’ was detected, i.e. the effect of BMI was significant in the pubertal group only. Total, nocturnal and diurnal 6-sulfatoxymelatonin excretion was significantly higher in girls. The increase in 6-sulfatoxymelatonin excretion found in obesity occurred only in boys and at the pubertal age. To what extent this increase in melatonin production contributes to a delayed puberty in some pubertal obese males remains to be established.