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Life Sci. 1999;65(4):415-20.

Melatonin increases p53 and p21WAF1 expression in MCF-7 human breast cancer cells in vitro.

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Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, School of Medicine, University of Cantabria, Santander, Spain.


The aim of the present work was to study whether melatonin, at physiological concentrations, exerts its antiproliferative effects on MCF-7 human breast cancer cells by inducing the expression of some of the proteins involved in the control of the cell cycle. MCF-7 cells were cultured for 48 h in DMEM media containing either melatonin (1 nM) or the diluent (0.001% ethanol). At this concentration, after 48 hours of incubation, melatonin reduced the number of viable cells in relation to controls. The decreased cell proliferation was coincident with a significant increase in the expression of p53 as well as p21WAF1 proteins. These results demonstrate that melatonin inhibits MCF-7 cell proliferation by inducing an arrest of cell cycle dependent on an increased expression of p21WAF1 protein, which is mediated by the p53 pathway.

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