Total 24-Hour Melatonin Secretion in Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis: A Case-Control Study

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Study Design.

A case-control study of 24-hour urinary melatonin production in patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis.


To address the controversy over the role of melatonin deficiency in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis by measuring total melatonin production over a 24-hour period.

Summary of Background Data.

An association between melatonin deficiency and experimental scoliosis has been suggested in several animal species. Recent work has failed to show a deficiency in humans with scoliosis. However, this conclusion was based on single urinary estimations. In this study the period assayed was standardized to 24-hours for all patients to include the full diurnal cycle of melatonin excretion.


Consecutive patients at an outpatient clinic for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis were recruited as subjects for this study, and patients from a fracture clinic who were of similar age and gender were recruited as controls at their final follow-up examination after the healing of their fracture. Patients and control individuals collected urine over a 24-hour period that was divided into consecutive day and night collections of 12 hours each. Total urinary excretion of 6-sulphatoxy melatonin was determined by radioimmunoassay for each 12-hour period in patients and control individuals.


No significant difference in diurnal, nocturnal, or total urine 6-sulphatoxy melatonin excretion was found between adolescent patients with idiopathic scoliosis and controls of similar age and gender. There was also no difference between the two groups when 6-sulphatoxy melatonin excretion was corrected for body weight, body surface area, and body mass index. Nor was there a significant difference between 6-sulphatoxy melatonin excretion of patients with scoliosis whose curves failed to progress over the course of a year and the excretion of those who underwent surgery.


In adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, neither the presentation with a stable spinal deformity, nor presentation with a severe deformity requiring surgery is associated with melatonin deficiency.

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