Melatonin promotes osteoblast differentiation and bone formation

Published on Wednesday, 16 March 2016


Prior studies have demonstrated that the pineal hormone, melatonin, can stimulate chloramphenicol acetyltransferase activity in Drosophila SL-3 cells transfected with a chloramphenicol acetyltransferase reporter construct containing the response element of rat bone sialoprotein (BSP).

Based on these findings, studies were performed to determine whether melatonin could similarly modulate the expression of BSP in two cell lines, the MC3T3-E1(MC3T3) pre-osteoblast and rat osteoblast-like osteosarcoma 17/2.8 cell.

Initial studies demonstrated that MC3T3 cells grown in the presence of 50 nM melatonin underwent cell differentiation and mineralization by day 12 instead of the 21-day period normally required for cells grown in untreated media.

Melatonin increased gene expression of BSP and the other bone marker proteins, including alkaline phosphatase (ALP); osteopontin; secreted protein, acidic and rich in cysteine; and osteocalcin in MC3T3 cells in a concentration-dependent manner.

Levels of melatonin as low as 10 nM were capable of stimulating transcription of these genes when cells were grown in the presence of beta-glycerophosphate and ascorbic acid. Under these conditions, melatonin induced gene expression of the bone marker proteins; however, this does not occur until the 5th day after seeding the culture dishes.

Thereafter, MC3T3 cells responded to melatonin within 2 h of treatment.

The fully differentiated rat osteoblast-like osteosarcoma 17/2.8 cells responded rapidly to melatonin and displayed an increase in the expression of BSP, ALP, and osteocalcin genes within 1 h of exposure to the hormone.

To determine whether melatonin-induced osteoblast differentiation and bone formation are mediated via the transmembrane receptor, MC3T3 cells were treated in the presence and absence of melatonin with either luzindole, a competitive inhibitor of the binding of melatonin to the transmembrane receptors, or pertussis toxin, an uncoupler of G(i) from adenylate cyclase. Both luzindole and pertussis toxin were shown to reduce melatonin-induced expression of BSP and ALP.

These results demonstrate, for the first time, that the pineal hormone, melatonin, is capable of promoting osteoblast differentiation and mineralization of matrix in culture and suggest that this hormone may play an essential role in regulating bone growth.



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