Melatonin regulates a variety of biological processes, which are the control of circadian rhythms, regulation of seasonal reproductive function and body temperature, free radical scavenging and so on. Our previous studies have shown that various cells exist in human and mouse tooth germs that express the melatonin 1a receptor (Mel1aR). However, little is known about the effects of melatonin on tooth development and growth. The present study was performed to examine the possibility that melatonin might exert its influence on tooth development. DP-805 cells, a human dental papilla cell line, were shown to express Mel1aR. Expression levels of mRNA for Mel1aR in DP-805 cells increased until 3 days after reaching confluence and decreased thereafter. Real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction showed that melatonin increased the expression of mRNAs for osteopontin (OPN), osteocalcin (OCN), bone sialoprotein (BSP), dentin matrix protein-1 (DMP-1) and dentin sialophosphoprotin (DSPP). Melatonin also enhanced the mineralized matrix formation in DP-805 cell cultures in a dose-dependent manner. These results strongly suggest that melatonin may play a physiological role in tooth development/growth by regulating the cellular function of odontogenic cells in tooth germs.
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