Melatonin exerts oncostatic capacity and decreases melanogenesis in human MNT-1 melanoma cells

Konrad Kleszczyński, Tae Kang Kim, Bernadetta Bilska, Michal Sarna, Krystian Mokrzynski, Agatha Stegemann, Elżbieta Pyza, Russel J. Reiter, Kerstin Steinbrink, Markus Böhm, Andrzej T. Slominski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Melanogenesis is a key parameter of differentiation in melanocytes and melanoma cells; therefore, search for factors regulating this pathway are strongly desired. Herein, we investigated the effects of melatonin, a ubiquitous physiological mediator that is found throughout animals and plants. In mammals, the pineal gland secretes this indoleamine into the blood circulation to exert an extensive repertoire of biological activities. Our in vitro assessment indicates an oncostatic capacity of melatonin in time-dependent manner (24, 48, 72 hours) in highly pigmented MNT-1 melanoma cells. The similar pattern of regulation regarding cell viability was observed in amelanotic Sk-Mel-28 cells. Subsequently, MNT-1 cells were tested for the first time for evaluation of melanin/melatonin interaction. Thus primary, electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy demonstrated that melatonin reduced melanin content. Artificially induced disturbances of melanogenesis by selected inhibitors (N-phenylthiourea or kojic acid) were slightly antagonized by melatonin. Additionally, analysis using transmission electron microscopy has shown that melatonin, particularly at higher dose of 10−3 mol/L, triggered the appearance of premelanosomes (stage I-II of melanosome) and MNT-1 cells synthesize de novo endogenous melatonin shown by LC-MS. In conclusion, these studies show a melanogenic-like function of melatonin suggesting it as an advantageous agent for treatment of pigmentary disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12610
JournalJournal of pineal research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy
  • liquid chromatography-mass spectroscopy
  • melanogenesis
  • melanoma cells
  • melatonin
  • transmission electron microscopy
  • tyrosinase activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology


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