Purpose: To assess the relationship between nocturnal plasma melatonin and serum estradiol (E2) and progesterone (P4) levels in depressed pregnant women (DW) and matched healthy women (HW). Methods: We used analysis of variance (ANOVA) and linear regression analyses on data obtained from pregnant HW and DW. Results: Log E2 and log P4 were positively correlated with measures of melatonin quantity in HW (p<0.05) but not DW, controlling for age. Log E2 and log P4 were positively correlated with melatonin offset and duration in DW (p<0.01) but not HW. Conclusions: Pregnant DW may be less sensitive than HW to modulation of melatonin secretion by E2 and P4. That melatonin timing measures are more sensitive to E2 and P4 variation in DW may reflect a circadian system more attuned to the need for realignment in DW than in HW. These altered sensitivities to reproductive hormones may reflect a biologic vulnerability that predisposes some pregnant women to depression.
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