Twenty-four-hour melatonin and cortisol plasma levels in relation to timing of cluster headache

M. Leone, V. Lucini, D. D'Amico, F. Moschiano, C. Maltempo, F. Fraschini, G. Bussone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The cyclic recurrence of cluster periods and the regular timing of headache occurrence in cluster headache (CH) induced us to study the circadian secretion of melatonin and cortisol in 12 patients with episodic CH, during a cluster period, and compare them with 7 age- and sex-matched healthy controls. Blood was sampled every 2 h for 24 h. All subjects were confined to a dark room from 22.00 to 08.00. Plasma melatonin levels were significantly reduced in CH patients (repeated measures ANOVA p <0.03; mesor p <0.02), and the cortisol mesor was significantly increased (p <0.03). Amplitudes and acrophases did not differ between the groups. Individual cosinor analysis showed that 4/12 (33.3%) CH patients had no significant melatonin rhythm, and that 5/11 (45.5%) had no cortisol rhythm. Group analysis of cosinor revealed significant rhythmicity of melatonin and cortisol secretion in both groups. In controls, the timing of melatonin and cortisol acrophase significantly correlated with each other, indicating that the biorhythm controllers for the secretion of these hormones were synchronized. Such correlation was not found in the CH patients; mesor, amplitude and acrophase of melatonin and cortisol did not correlate with duration of illness, duration of headache in course, or time since last headache attack.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)224-229
Number of pages6
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1995


  • Biological clock
  • Circadian rhythms
  • Cluster headache
  • Cortisol
  • Melatonin
  • Pain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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