A radiobiological review on melatonin: a novel radioprotector.J Radiat Res. 2007 Jul; 48(4):263-72.JR
In spite of the fact that radiotherapy is a common and effective tool for cancer treatment; the radio sensitivity of normal tissues adjacent to the tumor which are unavoidably exposed to radiation limits therapeutic gain. For the sake of improvement in radiation therapy, radiobiology- the study of the action of ionizing radiation on living things- plays a crucial role through explaining observed phenomena, and suggesting improvements to existing therapies. Due to the damaging effects of ionizing radiation, radiobiologists have long been interested in identifying novel, nontoxic, effective, and convenient compounds to protect humans against radiation induced normal tissue injuries. In hundreds of investigations, melatonin (N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine), the chief secretory product of the pineal gland in the brain, has been documented to ameliorate the oxidative injuries due to ionizing radiation. This article reviews different features that make melatonin a potentially useful radioprotector. Moreover, based on radiobiological models we can hypothesize that melatonin may postpone the saturation of repair enzymes which leads to repairing more induced damage by repair system and more importantly allows the use of higher doses of radiation during radiotherapy to get a better therapeutic ratio. The implications of the accumulated observations suggest by virtue of melatonin's radioprotective and anticancer effects; it is time to use it as a radioprotector both for radiation workers and patients suffering from cancer either alone for cancer inhibition or in combination with traditional radiotherapy for getting a favorable efficacy/toxicity ratio during the treatment. Although compelling evidence suggests that melatonin may be effective for a variety of disorders, the optimum dose of melatonin for human radioprotection is yet to be determined. We propose that, in the future, melatonin improve the therapeutic ratio in radiation oncology.