Melatonin as a potential anticarcinogen for non-small-cell lung cancer

Zhiqiang Ma, Yang Yang, Chongxi Fan, Jing Han, Dongjin Wang, Shouyin Di, Wei Hu, Dong Liu, Xiaofei Li, Russel J. Reiter and Xiaolong Yan _

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:46768-46784. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.8776

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Zhiqiang Ma1,*, Yang Yang2,3*, Chongxi Fan1,*, Jing Han4, Dongjin Wang2, Shouyin Di1, Wei Hu2, Dong Liu5, Xiaofei Li1, Russel J. Reiter6 and Xiaolong Yan1

1 Department of Thoracic Surgery, Tangdu Hospital, The Fourth Military Medical University, Xi’an, China

2 Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, Affiliated Drum Tower Hospital of Nanjing University Medical School, Nanjing, Jiangsu, China

3 Department of Biomedical Engineering, The Fourth Military Medical University, Xi’an, China

4 Department of Ophthalmology, Tangdu Hospital, The Fourth Military Medical University, Xi’an, China

5 State Key Laboratory of Cardiovascular Disease, Fuwai Hospital, National Center for Cardiovascular Diseases, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences & Peking Union Medical College, Beijing, China

6 Department of Cellular and Structural Biology, UT Health Science Center, San Antonio, TX, USA

* These authors have contributed equally to this work.

Correspondence to:

Xiaolong Yan, email:

Russel J. Reiter, email:

Xiaofei Li, email:

Keywords: melatonin; non-small-cell lung cancer; oncostatic effects; drug synergy; potential directions

Received: December 08, 2015 Accepted: March 31, 2016 Published: April 18, 2016


Non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is a leading cause of death from cancer worldwide. Melatonin, an indoleamine discovered in the pineal gland, exerts pleiotropic anticancer effects against a variety of cancer types. In particular, melatonin may be an important anticancer drug in the treatment of NSCLC. Herein, we review the correlation between the disruption of the melatonin rhythm and NSCLC incidence; we also evaluate the evidence related to the effects of melatonin in inhibiting lung carcinogenesis. Special focus is placed on the oncostatic effects of melatonin, including anti-proliferation, induction of apoptosis, inhibition of invasion and metastasis, and enhancement of immunomodulation. We suggest the drug synergy of melatonin with radio- or chemotherapy for NSCLC could prove to be useful. Taken together, the information complied herein may serve as a comprehensive reference for the anticancer mechanisms of melatonin against NSCLC, and may be helpful for the design of future experimental research and for advancing melatonin as a therapeutic agent for NSCLC.

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