What is known about melatonin, chemotherapy and altered gene expression in breast cancer

Carlos Martínez-Campa*, Javier Menéndez-Menéndez, Carolina Alonso-González, Alicia González, Virginia Alvarez Garcia, Samuel Cos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)
63 Downloads (Pure)


Melatonin, synthesized in and released from the pineal gland, has been demonstrated by multiple in vivo and in vitro studies to have an oncostatic role in hormone-dependent tumors. Furthermore, several clinical trials point to melatonin as a promising adjuvant molecule to be considered for cancer treatment. In the past few years, evidence of a broader spectrum of action of melatonin as an antitumor agent has arisen; thus, melatonin appears to also have therapeutic effects in several types of hormone-independent cancer, including ovarian, leukemic, pancreatic, gastric and non-small cell lung carcinoma. In the present study, the latest findings regarding melatonin molecular actions when concomitantly administered with either radiotherapy or chemotherapy in cancer were reviewed, with a particular focus on hormone-dependent breast cancer. Finally, the present study discusses which direction should be followed in the next years to definitely clarify whether or not melatonin administration could protect against non-desirable effects (such as altered gene expression and post-translational protein modifications) caused by chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatments. As treatments move towards personalized medicine, comparative gene expression profiling with and without melatonin may be a powerful tool to better understand the antitumor effects of melatonin, the pineal gland hormone.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2003-2014
Number of pages12
JournalOncology Letters
Issue number4
Early online date10 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017


  • Breast cancer
  • Cancer
  • Chemotherapy
  • Gene expression
  • Melatonin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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