The clinical neuroimmunotherapeutic role of melatonin in oncology

J Pineal Res. 1995 Oct;19(3):103-10. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-079x.1995.tb00177.x.


In the past several years, interest in the immunophysiological role of the pineal gland and melatonin has grown to the extent that now their immunoregulatory role is widely recognized. Melatonin has immunoenhancing properties and it is able to counteract the immunodepression induced by acute stress, drug treatment (i.e., anticancer drugs), and viral infections. Here we review the therapeutic efficacy of melatonin alone or in combination with interleukin-2 (IL-2) in cancer patients who did not respond to standard anticancer chemotherapies and/or refused any aggressive treatment. In this review, we summarize a series of reports from 1986 through 1994 in which patients affected by metastatic solid tumors, metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer, advanced solid neoplasms, myelodysplastic syndrome, hepatocellular carcinoma, and advanced endocrine tumors were studied. The conclusion drawn from these studies is that melatonin protects against IL-2 and synergizes with the IL-2 anticancer action. This combined strategy represents a well tolerated intervention to control tumor growth. In most cases performance status and quality of life seem improved.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy*
  • Interleukin-1 / immunology*
  • Melatonin / immunology*
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Neuroimmunomodulation
  • Pineal Gland / physiology*


  • Interleukin-1
  • Melatonin