A Brazilian study published in the Journal of Pineal Research describes a group of genes potentially regulated by the hormone melatonin in some types of cancer, especially breast cancer.
According to the authors, the results can be used to guide future personalized therapies for the disease.
Certain types of tumor appear to correlate directly with the amount of melatonin produced by cells. It's essential to understand how the hormone influences molecular signaling at the genetic level as a guideline for personalized therapies based on melatonin." Luiz Gustavo Chuffa, Professor, São Paulo State University's Botucatu Institute of Biosciences (IBB-UNESP)
The study was supported by FAPESP and conducted in collaboration with researchers at the University of North Paraná (UENP) and São José do Rio Preto Medical School (FAMERP) in Brazil and the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio in the United States.
Known as the "sleep hormone" because its functions include regulating the sleep-wake cycle, melatonin has been shown to have anti-tumor properties in laboratory trials. Evidence presented in the scientific literature suggests that low levels of melatonin are associated with a heightened risk of cancer. A possible explanation is that the hormone contributes to the modulation of gene expression and may intensify the activity of tumor suppressor genes, for example.
"Most tumor cells have low levels of melatonin, but laboratory trials have shown that treatment with the hormone increases tumor cell death and reduces tumor cell proliferation, both of which are important to avoid progression of the cancer and metastasis," Chuffa said. "Ongoing clinical trials are evaluating the use of melatonin to treat cancer. Specific therapies for the different subtypes of breast cancer already exist, and some patients will probably respond well to alternative treatments based on melatonin,…