Melatonin: A pleiotropic molecule that modulates DNA damage response and repair pathways

Maryam Majidinia, Alireza Sadeghpour, Saeed Mehrzadi, Russel J. Reiter, Nasrin Khatami, Bahman Yousefi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

127 Scopus citations


DNA repair is responsible for maintaining the integrity of the genome. Perturbations in the DNA repair pathways have been identified in several human cancers. Thus, compounds targeting DNA damage response (DDR) hold great promise in cancer therapy. A great deal of effort, in pursuit of new anticancer drugs, has been devoted to understanding the basic mechanisms and functions of the cellular DNA repair machinery. Melatonin, a widely produced indoleamine in all organisms, is associated with a reduced risk of cancer and has multiple regulatory roles on the different aspects of the DDR and DNA repair. Herein, we have mainly discussed how defective components in different DNA repair machineries, including homologous recombination (HR), nonhomologous end-joining (NHEJ), base excision repair (BER), nucleotide excision repair (NER), and finally DNA mismatch repair (MMR), can contribute to the risk of cancer. Melatonin biosynthesis, mode of action, and antioxidant effects are reviewed along with the means by which the indoleamine regulates DDR at the transduction, mediation, and functional levels. Finally, we summarize recent studies that illustrate how melatonin can be combined with DNA-damaging agents to improve their efficacy in cancer therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12416
JournalJournal of pineal research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017


  • DNA
  • cancer
  • chemotherapy
  • circadian rhythm
  • genome stability
  • pineal gland

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology


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