Introduction: Accumulating studies indicate that melatonin is a natural oncostatic agent capable of mediating the influence of the psychoneuroendocrine system on cancer growth. Although there is increasing evidence to show that the pineal gland may play a role in human non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), there is uncertainty about circadian profiles of melatonin, its precursor tryptophan, and its major metabolite, 6-sulfatoxymelatonin (6-OH-MLT) in NSCLC patients before and after treatment with standard chemotherapy (cisplatin plus vinorelbine). The aim of this study was to investigate the concentration changes of melatonin, tryptophan, and 6-OH-MLT in NSCLC patients treated with standard chemotherapy.
Methods: We examined the circadian melatonin, tryptophan, and 6-OH-MLT rhythms in 30 patients suffering from advanced-stage NSCLC and compared them with those of 63 healthy volunteers free from neoplastic disease. Blood samples were collected at 12 noon and 12 midnight. Urine samples were collected at 7 AM: and 4 PM: . The levels of melatonin in serum and of 6-OH-MLT in urine were measured by high-performance liquid chromatography. The concentration of amino acids including tryptophan in serum was measured by amino acid analyzer.
Results: Melatonin, tryptophan, and 6-OH-MLT concentrations were significantly lower in cancer patients, in comparison with healthy subjects. A significant inverse correlation between melatonin and tryptophan was observed. Additionally, after three cycles of standard chemotherapy, there was a tendency of melatonin, tryptophan, and 6-OH-MLT concentrations to progressively decrease in NSCLC patients.
Conclusion: The results of the present study indicate that the presence of NSCLC influences the metabolism of melatonin, and chemotherapy in NSCLC patients may progressively decrease the production of melatonin.