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Melatonin, a naturally occurring hormone that helps induce sleep, may also play an important role in promoting bone growth, researchers at the University at Buffalo have shown for the first time.

Results of a study conducted by Jerome A. Roth, a UB professor of pharmacology and toxicology, and Moon-Il Cho, a UB professor of oral biology, appear in a recent edition of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

The study suggests that melatonin may be useful in future treatment and prevention of osteoporosis.

"We know melatonin decreases with age, and that bone loss, which can lead to osteoporosis, is an inevitable part of aging, especially among women," Cho said. "Can melatonin help prevent osteoporosis? Our research indicates it may have that potential."

The UB researchers experimented with mice which, according to Roth, have melatonin receptors that are very similar to human melatonin receptors.

Other researchers involved in the UB study include Dr. Byung-Gook Kim, a Korean visiting scholar, and Wen-Lang Lin, a technical specialist at UB.

The research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Environmental Protection Agency and UB.

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