Melatonin protects against oxidative stress caused by δ-aminolevulinic acid: Implications for cancer reduction

Malgorzata Karbownik, Russel J. Reiter

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34 Scopus citations


δ-Aminolevulinic acid (ALA) is a precursor of haem. The increased concentration of ALA is typically related to acute intermittent porphyria, hereditary tyrosinemia, and lead poisoning. δ-Aminolevulinic acid produced in excess accumulates in a number of organs, causes oxidative damage, and often leads to cancer. Melatonin (N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine) is a well-known antioxidant, free radical scavenger, and exhibits anticarcinogenic properties. It protects DNA, lipids, and proteins from oxidative damage. The protective effects of melatonin against ALA-induced oxidation of guanine bases, lipid peroxidation, and alterations in membrane fluidity in several organs have been documented. There is an inverse relationship between melatonin and ALA concentrations in both experimental and clinical conditions of porphyria. The marked efficacy of melatonin in protecting against ALA-related oxidative stress, its oncostatic properties, and low toxicity constitute reasons to consider the use of this indoleamine as a co-treatment in patients suffering from disturbances related to ALA accumulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)276-286
Number of pages11
JournalCancer Investigation
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 19 2002


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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