Melatonin inhibits matrix metalloproteinase-9 activity by binding to its active site

Deep Sankar Rudra, Uttam Pal, Nakul Chandra Maiti, Russel J. Reiter, Snehasikta Swarnakar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


The zinc-dependent matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are key enzymes associated with extracellular matrix (ECM) remodeling; they play critical roles under both physiological and pathological conditions. MMP-9 activity is linked to many pathological processes, including rheumatoid arthritis, atherosclerosis, gastric ulcer, tumor growth, and cancer metastasis. Specific inhibition of MMP-9 activity may be a promising target for therapy for diseases characterized by dysregulated ECM turnover. Potent MMP-9 inhibitors including an indole scaffold were recently reported in an X-ray crystallographic study. Herein, we addressed whether melatonin, a secretory product of pineal gland, has an inhibitory effect on MMP-9 function. Gelatin zymographic analysis showed a significant reduction in pro- and active MMP-9 activity in vitro in a dose- and time-dependent manner. In addition, a human gastric adenocarcinoma cell line (AGS) exhibited a reduced (~50%) MMP-9 expression when incubated with melatonin, supporting an inhibitory effect of melatonin on MMP-9. Atomic-level interaction between melatonin and MMP-9 was probed with computational chemistry tools. Melatonin docked into the active site cleft of MMP-9 and interacted with key catalytic site residues including the three histidines that form the coordination complex with the catalytic zinc as well as proline 421 and alanine 191. We hypothesize that under physiological conditions, tight binding of melatonin in the active site might be involved in reducing the catalytic activity of MMP-9. This finding could provide a novel approach to physical docking of biomolecules to the catalytic site of MMPs, which inhibits this protease, to arrest MMP-9-mediated inflammatory signals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)398-405
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of pineal research
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2013


  • Inhibitor
  • Matrix metalloproteinase-9
  • Melatonin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology


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