Targeting cancer stem cells by melatonin: Effective therapy for cancer treatment

Pathol Res Pract. 2020 May;216(5):152919. doi: 10.1016/j.prp.2020.152919. Epub 2020 Mar 9.


Melatonin is a physiological hormone produced by the pineal gland. In recent decades, enormous investigations showed that melatonin can prompt apoptosis in cancer cells and inhibit tumor metastasis and angiogenesis in variety of malignancies such as ovarian, melanoma, colon, and breast cancer; therefore, its possible therapeutic usage in cancer treatment was confirmed. CSCs, which has received much attention from researchers in past decades, are major challenges in the treatment of cancer. Because CSCs are resistant to chemotherapeutic drugs and cause recurrence of cancer and also have the ability to be regenerated; they can cause serious problems in the treatment of various cancers. For these reasons, the researchers are trying to find a solution to destroy these cells within the tumor mass. In recent years, the effect of melatonin on CSCs has been investigated in some cancers. Given the importance of CSCs in the process of cancer treatment, this article reviewed the studies conducted on the effect of melatonin on CSCs as a solution to the problems caused by CSCs in the treatment of various cancers.

Keywords: Cancer stem cell; Cancer treatment; Melatonin.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Melatonin / pharmacology*
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / drug effects*


  • Melatonin