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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Bipedal ambulation induces experimental scoliosis in C57BL/6J mice with reduced plasma and pineal melatonin levels.

In addition to the induction of scoliosis in chickens by pinealectomy (PINX), we previously demonstrated that removal of the pineal gland also produces scoliosis in bipedal rats, which can be inhibited by melatonin treatment. Using C57BL/6J mice with genetically low circulating melatonin levels, the main objective of the present study was to investigate whether bipedal ambulation in C57BL/6J mice has the same effects on spinal deformity as those seen in pinealectomized bipedal rats. The present study consisted of two phases. The aim of the first experiment was to determine whether the C57BL/6J mouse strain actually exhibits depressed plasma concentrations and/or pineal contents of melatonin during both the light and the dark phase of the light:dark cycle. The aims of the second experiment were to evaluate; (i) whether bipedal ambulation alone in the C57BL/6J mouse induces scoliosis, and (ii) whether PINX with bipedal ambulation in another mouse strain, i.e. C3H/HeJ, which normally exhibits diurnal fluctuations in melatonin synthesis and secretion, has effects similar to those of bipedal ambulation alone in C57BL/6J mice. C3H/HeJ mice, serving as controls, showed significant increases in both plasma concentrations and pineal contents of melatonin during the dark phase when compared with the light phase. In contrast, there were no differences in either circulating levels or pineal contents of melatonin between the light and dark phases in C57BL/6J mice. Moreover, plasma melatonin levels were below the detection limit of the assay in both phases and pineal melatonin was < 10% of that in C3H/HeJ mice. Bipedal ambulation for 40 wk in C57BL/6J mice induced scoliosis at a rate of 64.3%, and two of nine scoliotic mice showed two sites of spinal deformity. This type of ambulation in C3H/HeJ mice resulted in scoliosis at a lower rate (25%), and affected animals had only a single scoliotic site. However, PINX combined with bipedal ambulation in C3H/HeJ mice produced scoliosis at a rate (70%) similar to that seen in C57BL/6J mice, and some double deformations were induced. These results confirm our previous observations in rats, and also support our hypothesis that melatonin as well as the bipedal ambulation appear to play a critical pathogenic role in scoliosis in experimental mammals.[1]


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