Melatonin hormone, produced in the lungs, acts as a barrier against coronavirus. Scientists from the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil came to these conclusions, reports the journal Melatonin Research.
The scientists discovered that melatonin acts as a barrier against SARS-CoV-2, preventing the expression of genes that encode proteins in cells such as macrophages residing in the nose and lung alveoli, and epithelial cells that line the alveoli, all of them entry points of the virus.
Therefore, the hormone prevents infection of these tissues and inhibits the immune response, causing the virus to remain in the respiratory tract for several days and then disappear to find another carrier.
According to the authors of the study, their discovery allows to understand why some people do not become infected with the coronavirus and others tolerate it asymptomatically, even in the presence of a positive PCR test.
“A similar mechanism of action of pulmonary melatonin should also spread to other respiratory viruses, including influenza,” says study author Professor Regina P Markus.
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Melatonin produced in the lungs altered the entry points for particles from contaminated air, it had already been revealed in experiments that were conducted by blocking melatonin synthesis in rodents. It turned out that without the hormone, inhaled solids could penetrate even the brain. In the current study, a similar experiment was conducted with coronavirus.
After analyzing samples from the lungs of healthy people, they discovered that the lower the melatonin production capacity, the higher the level of expression of the genes involved in the entry of the virus into the body. Where the melatonin index was highest, the hormone blocked the entry points of SARS-CoV-2 into the lungs.
More than 100 million cases of coronavirus infection have been detected in the world and almost 2.2 million people have died. Most of the infected and victims are in the United States, India and Brazil.