The effect of light exposure at night (LAN) on carcinogenesis via decreased nocturnal melatonin synthesis

Aldo Giudice, Anna Crispo, Maria Grimaldi, Andrea Polo, Sabrina Bimonte, Mario Capunzo, Alfonso Amore, Giovanni D. Arena, Pellegrino Cerino, Alfredo Budillon, Gerardo Botti, Susan Costantini, Maurizio Montella

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


In mammals, a master clock is located within the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) of the hypothalamus, a region that receives input from the retina that is transmitted by the retinohypothalamic tract. The SCN controls the nocturnal synthesis of melatonin by the pineal gland that can influence the activity of the clock’s genes and be involved in the inhibition of cancer development. On the other hand, in the literature, some papers highlight that artificial light exposure at night (LAN)-induced circadian disruptions promote cancer. In the present review, we summarize the potential mechanisms by which LAN-evoked disruption of the nocturnal increase in melatonin synthesis counteracts its preventive action on human cancer development and progression. In detail, we discuss: (i) the Warburg effect related to tumor metabolism modification; (ii) genomic instability associated with L1 activity; and (iii) regulation of immunity, including regulatory T cell (Treg) regulation and activity. A better understanding of these processes could significantly contribute to new treatment and prevention strategies against hormone-related cancer types.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1308
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2018


  • Cancer
  • Circadian rhythms
  • Melatonin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Chemistry (miscellaneous)
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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