Melatonin induces mitochondrial-mediated apoptosis in human myeloid HL-60 cells

Ignacio Bejarano, Pedro C. Redondo, Javier Espino, Juan A. Rosado, Sergio D. Paredes, Carmen Barriga, Russel J. Reiter, José A. Pariente, Ana B. Rodríguez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

131 Scopus citations


The role of melatonin in the mediation of apoptotic events has recently gained attention, especially after recent studies have reported that melatonin exerts antiapoptotic actions in normal cells but may activate proapoptotic pathways in some tumor cells. Here, we have evaluated the effect of melatonin on apoptosis in the human leukemia cell line HL-60. Melatonin treatment (1 mm) induced a significant increase in caspase-3 and -9 activities. The effect of melatonin on the activation of caspases was time dependent, reaching a maximum after 12 hr of stimulation, and then decreasing to a minimum after 72 hr. Treatment with melatonin also evoked mitochondrial membrane depolarization and permeability transition pore induction, which caused loss of mitochondrial staining by calcein, and increased cell death by apoptosis/necrosis as demonstrated by propidium iodide positive-staining of cells after 72 hr of stimulation. In addition, the exposure of cells to melatonin resulted in an activation and association of the proapoptotic proteins Bax and Bid, as well as promoting detectable increases in the expression of both proteins. We conclude that melatonin has proapoptotic and/or oncostatic effects in the human myeloid cell line HL-60.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)392-400
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of pineal research
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2009


  • Apoptosis
  • Caspases
  • HL-60 cells
  • Melatonin
  • Mitochondria

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology


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