Melatonin increases the survival time of animals with untreated mammary tumours: Neuroendocrine stabilization
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The aim of this study was to evaluate the therapeutic effect of melatonin, the main hormone of the pineal gland, on rats with advanced and untreated mammary tumours. Mammary tumours were chemically induced in Sprague–Dawley rats with the carcinogen 9,10-dimethyl-1,2-bezanthracene (DMBA). After the appearance of tumours the effect of melatonin (5 mg/ml per rat per day) was then evaluated on the survival time, tumour multiplicity, and tumour volume until the death of the animals. In addition, the variations in prolactin, noradrenaline and adrenaline concentrations, and in the percentage of NK cells were evaluated after one month of the treatment with melatonin. Daily administration of melatonin increased significantly the survival time of tumour-bearing animals (p<0.05 with respect to the control non-melatonin-receiving rats). The increased survival time did not correlate, however, with changes in either tumour multiplicity or tumour growth rate. Animals with mammary tumours exhibited an increase (p<0.05 with respect to healthy animals) in prolactin and catecholamine concentrations. The administration of melatonin stabilized the hormone levels, returning them to those in the basal-healthy animals. Rats with mammary tumours also presented lower percentages of NK cells, which were not increased by the administration of melatonin. The results strongly suggest that melatonin per se is beneficial during advanced breast cancer. It increases survival time, maybe by improving the homeostatic and neuroendocrine equilibrium which is imbalanced during advanced breast cancer. (Mol Cell Biochem 278: 15–20, 2005)
Key WordDMBA mammary tumours melatonin rats
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