Melatonin Suppresses Activity Of Brain Tumor Stem-Like Cells

The ‘sleep hormone’ melatonin directly targets stem-like cells of glioblastomas by altering their biology and inhibiting their ability to multiply.

AsianScientist (May 16, 2016) – A study team led by Professor Fang Zhiyou from the Center of Medical Physics and Technology, Hefei Institutes of Physical Science, has found that melatonin can suppress the self-renewal and tumorigenic activity of glioblastoma stem-like cells. Their findings were published in the Journal of Pineal Research.

Glioblastoma multiforme, also known as glioblastoma and grade IV astrocytoma, is the most common and aggressive brain tumor in adults. GBM displays cellular hierarchies which harbor a subpopulation of glioblastoma stem-like cells. These subsets of multipotent cells can grow as spheres and efficiently propagate tumors in xenograft models, reflecting a stem-like, self-renewing and tumor-propagating phenotype.

The difficulties in treating glioblastoma may be caused by the presence of glioblastoma stem-like cells, which are a source of relapse and chemoresistance. Therefore, new therapeutic strategies focusing on impairing the maintenance of glioblastoma stem-like cells are urgently needed.

Fang and colleagues used glioblastoma stem-like cells that were isolated from samples taken from GBM patients to study the role of melatonin. Melatonin is known to play a role in the development of the circadian rhythm and can be bought over-the-counter in certain countries as a sleep aid.

The researchers found that melatonin directly targeted glioma tumor cells by altering glioblastoma stem-like cell biology and inhibiting their proliferation. Additionally, melatonin altered the profile of transcription factors to inhibit tumor initiation and propagation.

These results suggest that melatonin attenuates multiple key signals involved in the self-renewal and survival of glioblastoma stem-like cells, supporting the idea that melatonin is potentially applicable in GBM therapeutics.

The article can be found at: Chen et al. (2016) Melatonin Inhibits Tumorigenicity of Glioblastoma Stem-like Cells via the AKT-EZH2-STAT3 Signaling Axis.


Source: Chinese Academy of Sciences; Photo: Shutterstock.
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