Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry

, Volume 462, Issue 1–2, pp 133–155 | Cite as

Melatonin and its ubiquitous anticancer effects

  • Sankha Bhattacharya
  • Krishna Kumar Patel
  • Deepa Dehari
  • Ashish Kumar Agrawal
  • Sanjay SinghEmail author


Melatonin (N-acetyl-5-methoxy-tryptamine), which is generally considered as pleiotropic and multitasking molecule, secretes from pineal gland at night under normal light or dark conditions. Apart from circadian regulations, Melatonin also has antioxidant, anti-ageing, immunomodulation and anticancer properties. From the epidemiological research, it was postulated that Melatonin has significant apoptotic, angiogenic, oncostatic and anti-proliferative effects on various oncological cells. In this review, the underlying anticancer mechanisms of Melatonin such as stimulation of apoptosis, Melatonin receptors (MT1 and MT2) stimulation, paro-survival signal regulation, the hindering of angiogenesis, epigenetic alteration and metastasis have been discussed with recent findings. The Melatonin utilization as an adjuvant with chemotherapeutic drugs for the reinforcement of therapeutic effects was also discussed. This review precisely emphasizes the anticancer effect of Melatonin on various cancer cells. This review exemplifies the epidemiology and anticancer efficiency of Melatonin with prior attention to the mechanisms of actions.


Melatonin Non-small-cell lung cancer Apoptosis Angiogenesis APUD system 



13-Hydroxy octadecadienoic acid


Arylalkiamin N-acetyltransferase


American Cancer Society


Aicardi–Goutières syndrome




Protein kinase B


Amine precursor uptake and decarboxylation system


Androgen receptor


Calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase type II alpha chain


Cyclic adenosine monophosphate




Cyclin-dependent kinase 1


Cyclin-dependent kinase 4




The diffusive neuro-endocrine system




Epidermal growth factor


Estrogen response element


Estrogenic receptor


Estrogenic receptor


Extracellular signal-regulated kinase


Gastric cancer


Glioblastoma cancer stem-like cells


Growth hormone-dependent growth factors


Histone deacetylase 4


Hepatocyte growth factor


Hypochlorous acid


Telomerase reverse transcriptase


Insulin-like growth factor-binding protein 3


Insulin-like growth factor 1


Like growth factor-1


Union of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology


c-Jun N-terminal kinase


Light at night


Microtubule-associated protein kinase


Murine for gastric carcinoma




Melatonin receptor 1a


Melatonin receptor 1B variant B


Melatonin receptor 1b


Nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells


Non-small-cell lung cancer


Ovarian cancer



p27 (Kip1)

Cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor


Prostate cancer cells


Platelet derived growth factors


Prion protein


Pittsburgh sleep quality index


Quinone reductase 2


Reactive nitrogen species


Related orphan receptor


Reactive oxygen species


Retinoic acid-related orphan nuclear hormone receptor


Suprachiasmatic nucleus region


Sulforhodamine B A


Transforming Growth factor


Tumour necrosis factor alpha


Vitamin D receptor


Vascular endothelial growth factor


World Health Organization



The authors would like to acknowledge the extensive moral support given by the students and the faculty members of Department of Pharmaceutical Engineering and Technology, Indian Institute of Technology (Banaras Hindu University) while compiling this manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sankha Bhattacharya
    • 1
  • Krishna Kumar Patel
    • 1
  • Deepa Dehari
    • 1
  • Ashish Kumar Agrawal
    • 1
  • Sanjay Singh
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Pharmaceutical Engineering and TechnologyIndian Institute of Technology (Banaras Hindu University)VaranasiIndia
  2. 2.Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University (BBAU)LucknowIndia

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