The growth inhibitory action of melatonin on human breast cancer cells is linked to the estrogen response system

Cancer Lett. 1992 Jul 10;64(3):249-56. doi: 10.1016/0304-3835(92)90050-6.


The pineal hormone, melatonin, was examined for its capacity to modulate the proliferation of a panel of human breast cancer cell lines. Melatonin inhibited, to a varying extent, the proliferation of all three estrogen-responsive cell lines, but had no effect on estrogen-insensitive breast tumor cell lines. Melatonin was also able to specifically block estrogen-induced proliferation in MCF-7 breast cancer cells. However, this action was abolished in the presence of tamoxifen. Therefore, it appears that the antiproliferative effects of melatonin are mediated through the estrogen-response pathway.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Drug Interactions
  • Estrogen Antagonists / pharmacology*
  • Estrogens / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Melatonin / pharmacology*
  • Neoplasms, Hormone-Dependent / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms, Hormone-Dependent / pathology
  • Receptors, Estrogen / physiology
  • Tamoxifen / pharmacology
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured / drug effects


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Estrogen Antagonists
  • Estrogens
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Tamoxifen
  • Melatonin