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Melatonin: A Possible Role in Pathogenesis of Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis

Machida, Masafumi, MD*; Dubousset, Jean, MD; Imamura, Yasuhide, MD*; Miyashita, Yukiko, MD*; Yamada, Thoru, MD; Kimura, Jun, MD§

Basic Science

Study Design. The serum melatonin levels during 24-hour periods were compared between patients with idiopathic and age-matched normal control subjects.

Objective. To find if the melatonin deficiency may have some role for progression or etiology of idiopathic scoliosis in humans.

Summary of Background Data. Experimentally induced scoliosis in chicken by pinealectomy can be attributed to the defect in melatonin metabolism.

Method. Blood samples were correlated every 3 hours during 24-hour periods, and serum melatonin levels were measured and statistically analyzed.

Results. The level of melatonin, integrated concentration through 24 hours and night time (0:00 AM-6:00 AM), in the patients who had progressive curve (more than 10° of progression in the previous 12 months) was significantly lower than the level in the patients who had a stable curve (less than 10° of progression in the previous 12 months) or in the control subjects (P<0.05).

Conclusion. The study suggests that normal melatonin synthesis or metabolism may have crucial role in regulating normal spine growth. The level of melatonin appears to be a useful predictor for progression of spine curvature in idiopathic scoliosis.

From the *Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Nihon University School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan, the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Hôpital St. Vincent de Paul, Paris, France, the Department of Neurology, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City, Iowa, and the §Department of Neurology, Faculty of Medicine, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan.

Presented at the 30th Annual Meeting of the Scoliosis Research Society September 13-17, 1995, Asheville, NC.

Acknowledgment date: August 23, 1995.

First revision date: November 2, 1995.

Acceptance date: November 16, 1995.

Device status category: 1.

Address reprint requests to: Masafumi Machida, MD; Department of Orthopaedic Surgery; Nihon University School of Medicine; 30-1 Oyaguchi-kamimachi, Itabashi-ku; Tokyo, Japan

© Lippincott-Raven Publishers.