Antiangiogenic effects of melatonin in endothelial cell cultures

Published on Tuesday, 12 March 2013


Endothelial cells represent one of the critical cellular elements in tumor microenvironment playing a crucial role in the growth and progression of cancer through controlling angiogenesis. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) produced from tumor cells is essential for the expansion of breast cancer and may function in both paracrine and autocrine manners to promote proliferation, growth, survival and migration of endothelial cells.

Since melatonin regulates tumor microenvironment by decreasing the secretion of VEGF by malignant epithelial cells and also regulates VEGF expression in human breast cancer cells, the aim of the present study was to investigate the anti-angiogenic activity of melatonin against the pro-angiogenic effects of breast cancer cells.

In this work, we demonstrate that melatonin strongly inhibited the proliferation as well as invasion/migration of human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC). Melatonin disrupted tube formation and counteracted the VEGF-stimulated tubular network formation by HUVEC.

In addition, conditioned media collected from human breast cancer cells were angiogenically active and stimulated tubule length formation and this effect was significantly counteracted by the addition of anti-VEGF or melatonin. Melatonin also disintegrated preformed capillary network.

All these findings demonstrate that melatonin may play a role in the paracrine interactions that take place between malignant epithelial cells and proximal endothelial cells.

Melatonin could be important in reducing endothelial cells proliferation, invasion, migration and tube formation, through a downregulatory action on VEGF. Taken together, our findings suggest that melatonin could potentially be beneficial as an antiangiogenic agent in breast cancer with possible future clinical applications!



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