Journal Article

Melatonin and colon carcinogenesis: I. Inhibitory effect of melatonin on development of intestinal tumors induced by 1,2-dimethylhydrazine in rats.

V N Anisimov, I G Popovich and M A Zabezhinski

in Carcinogenesis

Volume 18, issue 8, pages 1549-1553
Published in print August 1997 | ISSN: 0143-3334
Published online August 1997 | e-ISSN: 1460-2180 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/carcin/18.8.1549
Melatonin and colon carcinogenesis: I. Inhibitory effect of melatonin on development of intestinal tumors induced by 1,2-dimethylhydrazine in rats.

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The effect of pineal indole hormone melatonin on colon carcinogenesis was firstly studied in rats. Two-month-old outbred female LIO rats were weekly exposed to 15 (experiment 1, groups 1 and 2) or to five (experiment 2, groups 1 and 2) s.c. injections of 1,2-dimethylhydrazine (DMH) at a single dose of 21 mg/kg of body weight. From the day of the first injection of the carcinogen DMH, the rats from groups 2 (experiments 1 and 2) were given melatonin five days a week during the night-time (from 18:00 h to 8:00 h), dissolved in tap water at 20 mg/l. The experiment was finalized in 6 months after the first injection of DMH. In both experiments the majority of tumors were localized in the descending colon. Tumors of the small intestines developed only in rats from experiment 1. Total incidence of colon tumors as well as tumors in different parts of the colon and the mean number of tumors per rat were much higher in rats from both groups in experiment 1 than that in rats from experiment 2. In experiment 1 melatonin failed to influence the total incidence of colon tumors. However, incidence of carcinomas in the ascending colon was significantly reduced (P < 0.01). The multiplicity of total colon tumors per rat, as well as the mean number of tumors, ascending and descending colon per rat, was also decreased under the influence of melatonin (group 2 vs group 1, P < 0.01). In the same experiment, melatonin slightly decreased the depth of tumor invasion and increased number of highly differentiated colon carcinomas induced by DMH. The percentage of small tumours in the descending colon among rats from group 2 was higher than that of group 1. Treatment with melatonin was also followed by a decrease in the multiplicity of DMH-induced tumors of the duodenum (group 2 vs group 1, P < 0.05) and by a decrease in the incidence of jejunum and ileum tumors (group 2 vs group 1, P < 0.05). In experiment 2, the inhibitory effect of melatonin on DMH-induced colon carcinogenesis was much more expressed than that in experiment 1. Thus, in group 1 the incidence of total colon tumors, ascending and descending colon tumors, was significantly decreased in comparison with group 2; also melatonin reduced the number of tumors per rat in the ascending and descending colon. The number of colon tumors that invaded only mucosa was significantly higher in group 2 than in group 1, P < 0.05. The ratio of highly differentiated tumors was increased (P < 0.05) and the ratio of low-differentiated tumors was decreased (P < 0.05) in rats exposed to melatonin (group 4) as compared with group 3. The number of large size tumors in the ascending and descending colon was decreased whereas the number of small size tumors (<10 mm2) was increased in those parts of the colon that were under the influence of melatonin in experiment 2. Thus, our results demonstrate the inhibitory effect of melatonin on intestinal carcinogenesis induced by DMH in rats.

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Subjects: Clinical Cytogenetics and Molecular Genetics

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