Melatonin Inhibits Osteoclastogenesis and Osteolytic Bone Metastasis: Implications for Osteoporosis

Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Aug 30;22(17):9435. doi: 10.3390/ijms22179435.


Osteoblasts and osteoclasts are major cellular components in the bone microenvironment and they play a key role in the bone turnover cycle. Many risk factors interfere with this cycle and contribute to bone-wasting diseases that progressively destroy bone and markedly reduce quality of life. Melatonin (N-acetyl-5-methoxy-tryptamine) has demonstrated intriguing therapeutic potential in the bone microenvironment, with reported effects that include the regulation of bone metabolism, acceleration of osteoblastogenesis, inhibition of osteoclastogenesis and the induction of apoptosis in mature osteoclasts, as well as the suppression of osteolytic bone metastasis. This review aims to shed light on molecular and clinical evidence that points to possibilities of melatonin for the treatment of both osteoporosis and osteolytic bone metastasis. It appears that the therapeutic qualities of melatonin supplementation may enable existing antiresorptive osteoporotic drugs to treat osteolytic metastasis.

Keywords: apoptosis; bone mass protection; bone metastasis; immunomodulation; melatonin; osteoclastogenesis; osteoclasts; osteoporosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Bone Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Bone Neoplasms / secondary
  • Humans
  • Melatonin / pharmacology*
  • Osteoclasts / cytology
  • Osteoclasts / drug effects*
  • Osteogenesis*
  • Osteoporosis / pathology
  • Osteoporosis / prevention & control*


  • Antioxidants
  • Melatonin