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Oncology. 1995 Jul-Aug;52(4):278-83.

Serial transplants of DMBA-induced mammary tumors in Fischer rats as model system for human breast cancer. IV. Parallel changes of biopterin and melatonin indicate interactions between the pineal gland and cellular immunity in malignancy.

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Section of Clinical Pharmacology, University Women's Hospital, Tübingen, Germany.


Nocturnal (23.00-07.00 h) urinary melatonin and total biopterin (tBI; after acidic oxidation of reduced biopterins) were analyzed during the growth of two passages of a mammary tumor line in female F344 Fischer rats. In addition, nocturnal (02.00-03.00 h) peak concentrations of pineal melatonin in plasma were analyzed when tumors had reached comparable average tumor volumes of 25-30 cm3. Since tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4) is produced by murine macrophages in response to interferon-gamma released by activated T lymphocytes, measurements of tBI can serve to estimate the state of cellular immunity. At passage 2, a slow-growing localized carcinosarcoma, tBI showed a progressing increase during tumor growth reaching more than 200% (p < 0.05-0.005) of controls by the end of the experiment. Urinary and plasma melatonin were elevated by 30-50% (p < 0.05) and 42% respectively. At passage 12, a fast-growing metastasizing sarcoma, a depression of about 20-30% was found for tBI (p < 0.05) and urinary melatonin (p < 0.025); plasma melatonin was depleted by 70% (p < 0.005). Parallel changes of both parameters at each tumor passage indicate a close link between the pineal hormone melatonin and cellular immunity. The opposite trends observed at the two passages indicate a clear stimulation of the immune system and the pineal gland at early but inhibition at advanced stages of cancer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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