Anticarcinogenic actions of melatonin which involve antioxidative processes: Comparison with other antioxidants

Malgorzata Karbownik, Andrzej Lewinski, Russel J. Reiter

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

145 Scopus citations


The complex processes of carcinogenesis often involve oxidative stress. Numerous indicators of oxidative damage are enhanced as the result of the action of carcinogens. Several antioxidants, with different efficacies, protect against oxidative abuse caused by carcinogens. Recently, melatonin (N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine) and related indoleamines have attracted attention because of their high antioxidant and anticarcinogenic activity. Some antioxidants, e.g. ascorbic acid, play an ambivalent role in antioxidative defense, since, under specific conditions, they are strongly prooxidant. Among known antioxidants, melatonin has been an often investigated experimental agent in reducing cancer initiation and inhibiting the growth of established tumors. The indoleamine has been shown to protect macromolecules from oxidative mutilation induced by carcinogens. In these studies, a variety of in vitro and in vivo models were used and numerous indices of oxidative damage were evaluated. The protective effects of melatonin and several other indoleamine antioxidants against cellular damage caused by carcinogens make them potential supplements in the treatment or co-treatment at several stages of cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)735-753
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2001


  • Antioxidants
  • Cancer
  • Carcinogens
  • Melatonin
  • Oxidative damage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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