Antioxidant activity of melatonin in Chinese hamster ovarian cells: Changes in cellular proliferation and differentiation

Rosa M. Sainz, Juan C. Mayo, Dun Xian Tan, Silvia Lopez-Burillo, Mohan Natarajan, Russel J. Reiter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Melatonin is an endogenously generated molecule with free radical scavenging and antioxidant properties. Here, we studied the antiproliferative role of melatonin and other antioxidants on transformed Chinese hamster ovarian cells. Melatonin reduces cell proliferation in a dose- and time-dependent manner. Natural antioxidants which appear in edible plants including resveratrol and vitamin E mimicked the effect of melatonin. Flow cytometer analysis revealed that melatonin treatment reduces the number of cells in S-phase and increases cells in both G0/G1 and G2/M gaps. In addition, melatonin, as well as trolox, caused a clear morphological change by inducing the cells to become spindle shaped and fibroblast-like. Its effect is a reversible phenomenon that disappeared when melatonin was withdrawn from the culture medium. GSH levels are increased after melatonin treatment but pharmacologically blockade of GSH synthesis did not abolish melatonin's antiproliferative effect. Reduction of cell proliferation and the apparent induction of cell differentiation overlapped with melatonin's ability to change the intracellular redox state of CHO cells. We conclude that the cellular redox state may be involved in cellular transformation caused by antioxidants such as melatonin and trolox.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)625-634
Number of pages10
JournalBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 14 2003


  • CHO cells
  • Cancer
  • Differentiation
  • Glutathione
  • Melatonin
  • Proliferation
  • Redox state

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Antioxidant activity of melatonin in Chinese hamster ovarian cells: Changes in cellular proliferation and differentiation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this