Melatonin treatment offers hope of stronger thigh bones and loss of body fat
• Long term treatment of nightly melatonin may be significantly beneficial
• After a year, improved bone density at the critical neck of the thigh bone
• After a year, significant loss in fat mass
April 26, 2015, Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Press Dispensary.
A recent Danish study of post-menopausal women with osteopenia has shown that long term treatment with melatonin, which naturally decreases in the body with age, can improve the density of bone at the neck of the femur, in proportion to the level of treatment. A side effect of the study is that melatonin treatment can also help the body to lose fat (by almost 7% over a year) and gain a little lean tissue instead.
The findings were presented today by Danish researcher Anne-Kristine Amstrup at ECTS-IBMS 2015, the fourth joint meeting of the European Calcified Tissue Society (ECTS) and the International Bone and Mineral Society (IBMS) in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. They followed a randomised control study initiated by Dr Amstrup and her colleagues at Aarhus University Hospital, Denmark, and conducted over a one year period.
Dr Amstrup explained: "Melatonin is well-known for its effect on the circadian rhythm and more recently has shown to have some benefits for bone. We know that the body's level of melatonin decreases with age and therefore its benefits for bone are reduced, so we wanted to see whether introducing regular melatonin might improve things.
"We gave 81 healthy post-menopausal women with osteopenia, aged 56-73, nightly doses of 1mg or 3mg of melatonin or a placebo, and measured them at the beginning of the trial and after a year. We were looking at body composition and, at the spine and hip, bone mass density (BMD)."
Biochemical markers of calcium homeostasis were also measured throughout the trial.
Dr Amstrup continued: "Compared with the women taking the placebo, those on the 1mg dose experienced a BMD increase of 1.4% at the neck of the femur. Those on the higher dose experienced an increase of 2.3%. The treatment did not affect BMD elsewhere, nor bone turnover.
"However, there were two other side observations: a significant decrease in 24 hour urinary calcium for those taking melatonin and a possibly highly beneficial effect – a significant 6.8% decrease in fat mass for those on melatonin, while lean body mass increased for them by 2.2%."
She concluded: "Clearly further studies are needed to assess whether nightly doses of melatonin can protect against fractures but we can conclude that they appear to be beneficial both for that all-important femoral neck and for the body's fat levels. This is one to watch."
- ends -
Notes for editors
About The European Calcified Tissue Society
The European Calcified Tissue Society (ECTS) is the major organisation in Europe for researchers and clinicians working in the field of calcified tissues and related fields. ECTS acts as a forum for the dissemination of high quality research through its annual meeting, the European Symposium on Calcified Tissues, and through training courses and workshops.
Calcified tissues are central to a healthy skeleton and to bone disorders - such as osteoporosis, back pain and fractures - that make life a misery for countless people. Children can inherit some forms of bone diseases causing bone pain, shortness and deformed limbs.
About the International Bone and Mineral Society (IBMS)
IBMS is the international organization that facilitates the generation and dissemination of knowledge of bone and mineral metabolism through communication, community, training, and multi-disciplinary meetings throughout the world.
About ECTS-IBMS 2015
The fourth Joint Meeting of ECTS and IBMS is taking place in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, on April 25-28, 2015, at the Congress Centre De Doelen.
Recognised as the foremost annual European gathering in the field, ECTS-IBMS 2015 features a broad and stimulating scientific programme addressing the very latest advances, challenges, and developments in bone and calcified tissue. With an international delegation of scientists, clinicians, health care professionals, and researchers in attendance, the Joint Meeting is a unique opportunity to share in the vision of leading experts and discover what the future holds for this fast moving and exciting sector of medical research and practice.
ECTS 2016 will take place in Rome, Italy, 14-17 May, 2016.
About the study
Melatonin is known for its regulation of circadian rhythm and over recent years has been shown to have a positive effect on bone. But with age the melatonin levels decrease, leading to further imbalanced bone remodelling. The study sought to investigate whether treatment with melatonin might improve bone parameters.
The study was a double-blind placebo-controlled investigator initiated study. 81 healthy post-menopausal women with osteopenia and a mean age of 63 (range 56-73) years were randomised to one-year of treatment with melatonin in a nightly dose of 1 mg (N=20), or 3 mg (N=20), or similar placebo (N=41). At baseline and after 12 months of treatment, DXA measurements of body composition, and BMD at the spine and hip, were collected. Biochemical markers of calcium homeostasis were measured throughout the trial.
Compared with placebo, BMD at the femoral neck increased by 1.4% (95%CI:-2.7;-0.0, p<0.05) in response to the melatonin dose of 1mg. A dose-response relationship was present (p<0.01) as BMD at the femoral neck increased by 2.3% (95%CI:0.7;4.0, p<0.01) in the high dose (3mg/d) melatonin group compared with placebo. Compared with 1 mg/d of melatonin, BMD in the 3 mg/d group increased by 1.9% (95%CI:0.0;3.7, p<0.05).
Treatment did not affect BMD at other skeletal sites or levels of bone turnover markers. However, there was a significant decrease in 24 h urinary calcium in the melatonin group (-3.7%, IQR:-2.9;57.0) compared with placebo (8.5%, IQR:-11.5;19.4, p=0.02). Moreover, compared with placebo, melatonin decreased fat mass significantly by 6.8% (95%CI: 1.3;12.3, p=0.02), while lean body mass increased by 2.2% (95%CI:-4.8;0.3,p=0.08).
For further information, please contact:
Roberta Mugnai, ECTS executive director
European Calcified Tissue Society (ECTS)
Tel: + 32 476 520 716
ECTS-IBMS 2015 site: http://www.ects-ibms2015.org
Meeting hashtag: #ECTSIBMS2015