Is postmenopausal osteoporosis related to pineal gland functions?
Department of Psychiatry, Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Montefiore Medical Center, Bronx, NY 10461.
There is currently considerable interest in the pathogenesis of postmenopausal osteoporosis, which is the most common metabolic bone disease.
Osteoporosis affects approximately 20 million persons in the United States, 90% of whom are postmenopausal women.
Although there is evidence that estrogen deficiency is an important contributory factor, the pathogenesis of osteoporosis is multifactorial and presently poorly understood.
There is evidence that pineal melatonin is an anti-aging hormone and that the menopause is associated with a substantial decline in melatonin secretion and an increased rate of pineal calcification.
Animal data indicate that pineal melatonin is involved in the regulation of calcium and phosphorus metabolism by stimulating the activity of the parathyroid glands and by inhibiting calcitonin release and inhibiting prostaglandin synthesis.
Hence, the pineal gland may function as a "fine tuner" of calcium homeostasis.
In the following communication, we propose that the fall of melatonin plasma levels during the early stage of menopause may be an important contributory factor in the development of postmenopausal osteoporosis.
Consequently, plasma melatonin levels taken in the early menopause could be used as an indicator or perhaps as a marker for susceptibility to postmenopausal osteoporosis.
Moreover, light therapy, administration of oral melatonin (2.5 mg at night) or agents which induce a sustained release of melatonin secretion such as 5-methoxypsoralen, could be useful agents in the prophylaxis and treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis.
Finally, since application of external artificial magnetic fields has been shown to synchronize melatonin secretion in experimental animals and humans, we propose that treatment with artificial magnetic fields may be beneficial for postmenopausal osteoporosis.
- [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]