Melatonin for the prevention and treatment of cancer

Ya Li, Sha Li, Yue Zhou, Xiao Meng, Jiao-Jiao Zhang, Dong-Ping Xu and Hua-Bin Li _

PDF  |  HTML  |  How to cite

Oncotarget. 2017; 8:39896-39921. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.16379

Metrics: PDF 6842 views  |   HTML 24509 views  |   ?  


Ya Li1, Sha Li2,*, Yue Zhou1, Xiao Meng1, Jiao-Jiao Zhang1, Dong-Ping Xu1 and Hua-Bin Li1,3,*

1 Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Food, Nutrition and Health, Department of Nutrition, School of Public Health, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, China

2 School of Chinese Medicine, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China

3 South China Sea Bioresource Exploitation and Utilization Collaborative Innovation Center, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, China

Correspondence to:

Hua-Bin Li, email:

Sha Li, email:

Keywords: melatonin; anticancer; mechanisms of action; receptor; apoptosis

Received: January 20, 2017 Accepted: March 09, 2017 Published: March 18, 2017


The epidemiological studies have indicated a possible oncostatic property of melatonin on different types of tumors. Besides, experimental studies have documented that melatonin could exert growth inhibition on some human tumor cells in vitro and in animal models. The underlying mechanisms include antioxidant activity, modulation of melatonin receptors MT1 and MT2, stimulation of apoptosis, regulation of pro-survival signaling and tumor metabolism, inhibition on angiogenesis, metastasis, and induction of epigenetic alteration. Melatonin could also be utilized as adjuvant of cancer therapies, through reinforcing the therapeutic effects and reducing the side effects of chemotherapies or radiation. Melatonin could be an excellent candidate for the prevention and treatment of several cancers, such as breast cancer, prostate cancer, gastric cancer and colorectal cancer. This review summarized the anticancer efficacy of melatonin, based on the results of epidemiological,experimental and clinical studies, and special attention was paid to the mechanisms of action.

Creative Commons License All site content, except where otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
PII: 16379