Downregulation of genes associated with anti-tumour immune response induced by melatonin

E. Capelli, I. Campo, A. Lucchelli, S. Panelli, G. Damiani, M. Cuccia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The effect of pineal hormone melatonin (MLT) on expression of genes known to be induced following cell activation was studied in human peripheral blood lymphocytes Lymphocyte cultures stimulated with interleukin-2 (rIL-2) and/or phytoemagglutinin (PHA) were used as activation model. mRNA obtained from melatonin treated and untreated lymphocytes was retrotranscribed and amplified by RT-PCR using primers designed on the sequences of selected genes (DRB, β-TIM, TRA 1, RAP 2) The aim was to investigate the effect of this substance on expression of genes associated to the activation of immune system cells. It is well known that melatonin is involved in the regulation of different phisiological and neuroendocrine processes and it has been suggested that enhances immune system function. According to some researchers melatonin seems to counteract the growth of both spontaneous and experimental tumours because of its ability to stimulate the anti-tumour defences as suggested by studies on tumour progression in mice and clinical immunotherapy trials in humans. The results obtained in our study indicate that melatonin determines a general downrwegulation of gene expression. These data are in agreement with previous results that have demonstrated a citostatic action of this drug in lymphocytes cultures. Particularly interesting is the observation that melatonin induces a reduction in TRA 1 (tumor rejection antigen 1) expression. Moreover the new oncogene Rap-2 of the Ras superfamily is not transcribed in the presence of melatonin. These data support the idea that melatonin has a role in the control of cell proliferation and in down regulation of some genes related to immune response.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)338
Number of pages1
JournalEuropean Journal of Immunogenetics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Genetics


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