Melatonin and Cancer Hallmarks

Molecules. 2018 Feb 26;23(3):518. doi: 10.3390/molecules23030518.


Melatonin is a natural indoleamine produced by the pineal gland that has many functions, including regulation of the circadian rhythm. Many studies have reported the anticancer effect of melatonin against a myriad of cancer types. Cancer hallmarks include sustained proliferation, evading growth suppressors, metastasis, replicative immortality, angiogenesis, resisting cell death, altered cellular energetics, and immune evasion. Melatonin anticancer activity is mediated by interfering with various cancer hallmarks. This review summarizes the anticancer role of melatonin in each cancer hallmark. The studies discussed in this review should serve as a solid foundation for researchers and physicians to support basic and clinical studies on melatonin as a promising anticancer agent.

Keywords: angiogenesis; anticancer; cancer hallmarks; immune evasion; melatonin; metastasis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors
  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / genetics
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / immunology
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / metabolism
  • Disease Progression
  • Genomic Instability
  • Humans
  • Melatonin / chemistry
  • Melatonin / genetics
  • Melatonin / metabolism*
  • Melatonin / pharmacology
  • Metabolic Networks and Pathways
  • Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Tumor Escape


  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Melatonin