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Melatonin may affect bone metabolism through bone anabolic as well as antiresorptive effects. An age-related decrease in peak melatonin levels at nighttime is well documented, which may increase bone resorption and bone loss in the elderly. In vitro, melatonin reduces oxidative stress on bone cells by acting as an antioxidant. Furthermore, melatonin improves bone formation by promoting differentiation of human mesenchymal stem cell (hMSC) into the osteoblastic cell linage. Bone resorption is reduced by increased synthesis of osteoprogeterin (OPG), a decoy receptor that prevents receptor activator of NK-κB ligand (RANKL) in binding to its receptor. Moreover, melatonin is believed to reduce the synthesis of RANKL preventing further bone resorption. In ovariectomized as well as nonovariectomized rodents, melatonin has shown beneficial effects on bone as assessed by biochemical bone turnover markers, DXA, and μCT scans. Furthermore, in pinealectomized animals, bone mineral density (BMD) is significantly decreased compared to controls, supporting the importance of sufficient melatonin levels. In humans, dysfunction of the melatonin signaling pathway may be involved in idiopathic scoliosis, and the increased fracture risk in nighttime workers may be related to changes in the circadian rhythm of melatonin. In the so-far only randomized study on melatonin treatment, no effects were, however, found on bone turnover markers. In conclusion, melatonin may have beneficial effects on the skeleton, but more studies on humans are warranted in order to find out whether supplementation with melatonin at bedtime may preserve bone mass and improve bone biomechanical competence.
Department of Internal Medicine and Endocrinology (MEA), THG Tage-Hansens Gade 2, Aarhus University Hospital, 8000 Aarhus, Denmark, firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was published in the following journal.
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A biogenic amine that is found in animals and plants. In mammals, melatonin is produced by the PINEAL GLAND. Its secretion increases in darkness and decreases during exposure to light. Melatonin is implicated in the regulation of SLEEP, mood, and REPRODUCTION. Melatonin is also an effective antioxidant.
A family of G-protein-coupled receptors that are specific for and mediate the effects of MELATONIN. Activation of melatonin receptors has been associated with decreased intracellular CYCLIC AMP and increased hydrolysis of PHOSPHOINOSITIDES.
A melatonin receptor subtype primarily found expressed in the BRAIN and RETINA.
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