Experimental scoliosis in melatonin-deficient C57BL/6J mice without pinealectomy

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Abstract

The etiology of idiopathic scoliosis is unknown. Scoliosis with many characteristics closely resembling those seen in idiopathic scoliosis has been produced in young chickens and bipedal rats after pinealectomy. In this study, we induced experimental scoliosis in C57BL/6J mice without pinealectomy and melatonin treatment suppressed the development of scoliosis. A total of 100 mice were divided into four groups: 20 quadrupedal mice served as controls; 30 mice underwent resection of two forelegs and tail at 3 wk of age (bipedal mice); the remaining 20 quadrupedal and 30 bipedal mice received intraperitoneal melatonin (8 mg/kg BW) at 19:00 hr daily. Before killing, blood samples were collected in the middle of dark cycle and melatonin levels were measured by radioimmunoassay. Spine X-ray and helical 3D-CT were examined after killing at 5 months of age. The bipedal mice without a tail were able to walk with standing posture, whereas the quadrupedal mice did not walk with standing posture. In C57BL/6J mice, the serum melatonin was reduced to nearly zero; however, the normal level was restored in both bipedal and quadrupedal mice after the injection of melatonin. Scoliosis with rib humps developed in 29 of 30 bipedal and in five quadrupedal mice. None of mice with melatonin treatment developed scoliosis. The results suggest that melatonin deficiency in bipedal mice appears to play crucial role for development of scoliosis. Also the restoration of melatonin levels prevents the development of scoliosis.

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