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Open Access Highly Accessed Review

Melatonin the "light of night" in human biology and adolescent idiopathic scoliosis

Theodoros B Grivas* and Olga D Savvidou

Author Affiliations

Orthopaedic Department, "Thriasio" General Hospital, G. Gennimata Avenue, Magula, 19600 Greece

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Scoliosis 2007, 2:6  doi:10.1186/1748-7161-2-6

Published: 4 April 2007

Abstract

Melatonin "the light of night" is secreted from the pineal gland principally at night. The hormone is involved in sleep regulation, as well as in a number of other cyclical bodily activities and circadian rhythm in humans. Melatonin is exclusively involved in signalling the 'time of day' and 'time of year' (hence considered to help both clock and calendar functions) to all tissues and is thus considered to be the body's chronological pacemaker or 'Zeitgeber'.

The last decades melatonin has been used as a therapeutic chemical in a large spectrum of diseases, mainly in sleep disturbances and tumours and may play a role in the biologic regulation of mood, affective disorders, cardiovascular system, reproduction and aging. There are few papers regarding melatonin and its role in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS). Melatonin may play a role in the pathogenesis of scoliosis (neuroendocrine hypothesis) but at present, the data available cannot clearly support this hypothesis. Uncertainties and doubts still surround the role of melatonin in human physiology and pathophysiology and future research is needed.