Melatonin is a natural substance ubiquitous in distribution and present in almost all species ranging from unicellular organisms to humans. In mammals, melatonin is synthesized not only in the pineal gland but also in many other parts of the body, including the eyes, bone marrow, gastrointestinal tract, skin and lymphocytes. Melatonin influences almost every cell and can be traced in membrane, cytoplasmic, mitochondrial and nuclear compartments of the cell. The decline in the production of melatonin with age has been suggested as one of the major contributors to immunosenescence and development of neoplastic diseases. Melatonin is a natural antioxidant with immunoenhancing properties. T-helper cells play an important role for protection against malignancy and melatonin has been shown to enhance T-helper cell response by releasing interleukin-2, interleukin-10 and interferon-γ. Melatonin is effective in suppressing neoplastic growth in a variety of tumors like melanoma, breast and prostate cancer, and ovarian and colorectal cancer. As an adjuvant therapy, melatonin can be beneficial in treating patients suffering from breast cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma or melanoma. In this paper, a brief review of recent patents on melatonin and cancer has also been presented.
Keywords: Melatonin, melanoma, immune therapy, oxidative stress, breast cancer, prostate cancer, gastrointestinal cancer, colorectal cancer, cytokines, T-helper cells, cancer
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