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Basic Mechanisms Involved in the Anti-Cancer Effects of Melatonin

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It is commonly accepted that melatonin (N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine), the most relevant pineal secretory product, has oncostatic properties in a wide variety of tumors and, especially, in those identified as being hormone-dependent. The objective of the present article is to offer a global and integrative view of the mechanisms involved in the oncostatic actions of this indoleamine. Due to the wide spectrum of melatonin's actions, the mechanisms that may be involved in its ability to counteract tumor growth are varied. These include: a) antioxidant effects; b) regulation of the estrogen receptor expression and transactivation; c) modulation of the enzymes involved in the local synthesis of estrogens; d) modulation of cell cycle and induction of apoptosis; e) inhibition of telomerase activity; f) inhibition of metastasis; g) prevention of circadian disruption; h) antiangiogenesis; i) epigenetic effects; j) stimulation of cell differentiation; and k) activation of the immune system. The data supporting each of these oncostatic actions of melatonin are summarized in this review. Moreover, the list of actions described may not be exhaustive in terms of how melatonin modulates tumor growth.

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Keywords: 1-integrin; 13-hydroxyoctadecadienoic acid; E-cadherin; Melatonin; Neuroendocrin; anastroxole; angiogenesis; antiaromatases; antioxidant; aortic smooth muscle; apoptotic induced factor; calmodulin (CaM); cancer; carbonic anhydrase IX; cervical cancer; colorectal cancer; cytodifferentiating effects; cytosolic proteases; epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR); epigenetic effects; estrogen signalling pathway; estrogen sulfotransferases; estrogenic receptor; exemestrane; hepatocarcinomas; ifosfamide; immunoenhancing; indoleamine; larynx carcinomas; letrozole; lymphocytes; lymphoid organs; malignant neoplasias; malignant tumors; melanoma; melatonin; mesenchymal stem cells; metastasis; mitogenactivated protein kinase (MAPK); mitogenic proteins; neoplasias; neoplastic diseases; neural tumors; neuroendocrine-reproductive; osteoblasts; pinealectomy; reactive oxygen species; sarcomas; suprachiasmatic nuclei; telomerase; telomerase activity; vincristine; xenoestrogens

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2010-12-01

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  • Current Medicinal Chemistry covers all the latest and outstanding developments in medicinal chemistry and rational drug design. Each issue contains a series of timely in-depth reviews written by leaders in the field covering a range of the current topics in medicinal chemistry. Current Medicinal Chemistry is an essential journal for every medicinal chemist who wishes to be kept informed and up-to-date with the latest and most important developments.
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