Melatonin: Targeting the Powerhouse of the Cell

Researchers in Mayo Clinic's Brain Tumor Stem Cell Research Lab are investigating the oncostatic effects of melatonin on glioblastoma. Dr. Quinones-Hinojosa's lab is collaborating with the University of Granada in using melatonin to enhance the temozolomide treatment of brain cancer. Ultimately, the results of these studies will increase therapeutic efficiency and provide a better quality of life for patients.

Research has demonstrated that melatonin is more than just a natural sleep hormone. Previous studies have shown that melatonin exerts a synergistic effect with chemotherapy or radiation treatment on cancers such as breast cancer, melanoma, and head and neck cancer. Melatonin targets the "powerhouses" (mitochondria) of cancer cells, shifting metabolic state and sensitizing cells to be less resistant to treatment.

Outside of its effects in tumor cells, melatonin plays a key role in the protection of resident noncancerous cells, thus counteracting the side effects associated with chemotherapy. Additionally, melatonin is an attractive candidate for therapeutic investigation as it is naturally present in the body, thus avoiding the danger of introducing foreign molecules to the patient.

Project team

Lab members studying melatonin as an enhancer for temozolomide in glioblastoma include:

  • Beatriz I. Fernandez Gil, Ph.D.
  • Andrea Otamendi Lopez, M.D.
  • Paula Valentina (Paula) Schiapparelli, Ph.D.