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J Pineal Res. 2010 Jan;48(1):9-19. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-079X.2009.00729.x.

Sirtuins, melatonin and circadian rhythms: building a bridge between aging and cancer.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706, USA.


Histone deacetylases (HDAC) have been under intense scientific investigation for a number of years. However, only recently the unique class III HDAC, sirtuins, have gained increasing investigational momentum. Originally linked to longevity in yeast, sirtuins and more specifically, SIRT1 have been implicated in numerous biological processes having both protective and/or detrimental effects. SIRT1 appears to play a critical role in the process of carcinogenesis, especially in age-related neoplasms. Similarly, alterations in circadian rhythms as well as production of the pineal hormone melatonin have been linked to aging and cancer risk. Melatonin has been found act as a differentiating agent in some cancer cells and to lower their invasive and metastatic status. In addition, melatonin synthesis and release occurs in a circadian rhythm fashion and it has been linked to the core circadian machinery genes (Clock, Bmal1, Periods, and Cryptochromes). Melatonin has also been associated with chronotherapy, the timely administration of chemotherapy agents to optimize trends in biological cycles. Interestingly, a recent set of studies have linked SIRT1 to the circadian rhythm machinery through direct deacetylation activity as well as through the nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD(+)) salvage pathway. In this review, we provide evidence for a possible connection between sirtuins, melatonin, and the circadian rhythm circuitry and their implications in aging, chronomodulation, and cancer.

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