Melatonin is reported to be related to diabetes mellitus (DM) risk; however, the effect of melatonin on diabetic retinopathy (DR) risk remains unclear.
The aim of this study was to determine the effect of melatonin on DR risk.
A hospital-based case-control study was conducted from January 2020 to June 2020. DR was assessed using the Diabetic Retinopathy preferred practice pattern (PPP)-updated 2019 criteria. The participants were divided into the DM cases without DR (NDR) group, non-proliferative DR (NPDR) group and proliferative DR (PDR) group. Plasma melatonin concentration was detected with the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay kit. The relationship between plasma melatonin concentration and DR risk as well as severity was assessed.
It was found that plasma melatonin was 72.83 ± 16.25, 60.38 ± 13.43, 44.48 ± 10.30 and 44.69 ± 8.95 pg/mL in healthy controls, NDR group, NPDR and PDR group, respectively. In addition, it was found that plasma melatonin could be used as a potential diagnostic biomarker for DR (AUC = 0.893, P < 0.001). There was a significant positive relationship between total bilirubin and melatonin content (P < 0.001) based on the correlation assay. Significant associations between total bilirubin and melatonin content were also detected in the NPDR (R 2 = 0.360, P < 0.001) and PDR (R 2 = 0.183, P < 0.001) groups.
The data obtained in this study demonstrated that plasma melatonin concen-tration was decreased in DR cases and could be used as a sensitive and specific marker for the diagnosis of DR. A significant positive relationship between total bilirubin and melatonin was detected. More related studies are required to understand the role of melatonin in DR.