The potential therapeutic effect for melatonin and mesenchymal stem cells on hepatocellular carcinoma

Biomedicine (Taipei). 2019 Dec;9(4):24. doi: 10.1051/bmdcn/2019090424. Epub 2019 Nov 14.


Background/aim: Herein, we investigated the potential therapeutic effect of Melatonin (Mel) and/or mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) on rat model of HCC.

Materials and methods: Female mature rats were divided into 5 groups (n = 10/group): normal (Nor), HCC group intraperitoneally injected with 200 mg/kg DEN, and 3 treated groups; HCC + Mel (Mel) group given Mel intraperitoneally 20 mg/kg, twice a week, HCC + MSCs (MSCs) group intravenously injected by 1 × 106 cells, and HCC + MSCs (Mel +MSCs) group.

Results: Rats in HCC group showed most deteriorated effect in form of increased mortality and relative liver weight, elevated serum levels of ALT, AST, ALP, AFP and GGT in addition to increased pre-neoplastic nodules in liver tissues. Liver tissues of HCC group also exhibited lower level of apoptosis as indicated by decreased DNA fragmentation and expression of p53 caspase 9 and caspase 3 genes and increased PCNA immunoreactivity. Moreover, in this group the expression of IL6 and TGFβ1 genes was significantly upregulated. All these deleterious effects induced by DEN were reversed after administration of Mel and/ or MSCs with best improvement for the combined group (MSCs + Mel).

Conclusions: These findings reveal a better therapeutic effect for MSCs when given with Mel and we attribute this beneficial effect, at least in part, to triggering apoptosis and targeting inflammation in HCC. Therefore, combined treatment with Mel and MSCs is recommended to enhance the therapeutic potential against HCC.

Keywords: Apoptosis; HCC; Inflammation; MSCs; Melatonin.