Melatonin exerts immunoregulatory effects by balancing peripheral effector and regulatory T helper cells in myasthenia gravis.
Aging (Albany NY). 2020 11 2 ;12(21):21147-21160. Epub 2020 Nov 2. PMID: 33136553
Myasthenia gravis (MG) is a prototypic organ-specific autoimmune disorder that, in most cases, is mainly mediated by antibodies against the acetylcholine receptor. Evidence implicates CD4T helper (Th) cells in the development of MG, whereas regulatory T cells (Tregs) are associated with disease resolution. Melatonin has important immunoregulatory effects in many T cell-mediated autoimmune diseases. However, there are few studies on the role of melatonin in MG. In the present study, we investigated serum melatonin levels and melatonin receptor expression in MG patients and healthy controls (HCs). We also evaluated the impact of melatonin administration on peripheral CD4Th cells and related cytokine production. Serum melatonin levels were lower in MG patients than in HCs, and MT1 expression was lower in PBMCs from MG patients than in those from HCs. Administration of melatonin significantly decreased Th1 and Th17 cell responses and proinflammatory cytokine production. Further investigationrevealed that melatonin administration increased FoxP3 and IL-10 expression in CD4T cells from MG patients and enhanced the suppressive function of Tregs. These findings indicate that melatonin exerts immunoregulatory activity in MG by balancing effector and regulatory Th cell populations as well as by suppressing proinflammatory cytokine production.