Melatonin, the primary hormone involved in circadian entrainment, plays a significant role in bone physiology. This study aimed to assess the role of MEK1/2 and MEK5 in melatonin-mediated actions in mouse and human mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) and on bone using small-molecule inhibitors and CRISPR/Cas9 knockout approaches. Consistent with in vitro studies performed in mMSCs and hMSCs, nightly (25 mg/kg, i.p., 45 days) injections with PD184352 (MEK1/2 inhibitor) or Bix02189 (MEK5 inhibitor) or SC-1-151 (MEK1/2/5 inhibitor) demonstrated that MEK1/2 and MEK5 were the primary drivers underlying melatonin's actions on bone density, microarchitecture (i.e., trabecular number, separation, and connectivity density), and bone mechanical properties (i.e., ultimate stress) through increases in osteogenic (RUNX2, BMP-2, FRA-1, OPG) expression and decreases in PPARγ. Furthermore, CRISPR/Cas9 knockout of MEK1 or MEK5 in mMSCs seeded on PLGA scaffolds and placed into critical-size calvarial defects in Balb(c) mice (male and female) revealed that treatment with melatonin (15 mg/L; p.o., nightly, 90 days) mediates sex-specific actions of MEK1 and MEK5 in new bone formation. This study is the first to demonstrate a role for MEK1/2 and MEK5 in modulating melatonin-mediated actions on bone formation in vivo and in a sex-specific manner.
- bone mineral density