Melatonin Enhances Cisplatin and Radiation Cytotoxicity in Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma by Stimulating Mitochondrial ROS Generation, Apoptosis, and Autophagy
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AuthorFernández-Gil, Beatriz; Guerra-Librero, Ana; Shen, Ying-Qiang; Florido, Javier; Martínez Ruiz, Laura; García López, Sergio; Adán, Christian; Rodríguez Santana, César
Fernandez-Gil, B. I., Guerra-Librero, A., Shen, Y. Q., Florido, J., Martínez-Ruiz, L., García-López, S., ... & Fernández-Martínez, J. (2019). Melatonin enhances cisplatin and radiation cytotoxicity in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma by stimulating mitochondrial ROS generation, apoptosis, and autophagy. Oxidative medicine and cellular longevity, 2019.
SponsorshipThis study was partially supported by grants from the Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad, Spain, and the FEDER Regional Development Fund (nos. SAF2013-49019 and SAF2017-85903), from the Instituto de Salud Carlos III (no. CB/10/00238), and from the Consejería de Economía, Innovación, Ciencia y Empleo, Junta de Andalucía (CTS-101).
Head and neck cancer is the sixth leading cancer by incidence worldwide. Unfortunately, drug resistance and relapse are the principal limitations of clinical oncology for many patients, and the failure of conventional treatments is an extremely demoralizing experience. It is therefore crucial to find new therapeutic targets and drugs to enhance the cytotoxic effects of conventional treatments without potentiating or offsetting the adverse effects. Melatonin has oncostatic effects, although the mechanisms involved and doses required remain unclear. The purpose of this study is to determine the precise underlying mitochondrial mechanisms of melatonin, which increase the cytotoxicity of oncological treatments, and also to propose new melatonin treatments in order to alleviate and reverse radio- and chemoresistant processes. We analyzed the effects of melatonin on head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) cell lines (Cal-27 and SCC-9), which were treated with 0.1, 0.5, 1, and 1.5mM melatonin combined with 8 Gy irradiation or 10 μM cisplatin. Clonogenic and MTT assays, as well as autophagy and apoptosis, involving flow cytometry and western blot, were performed in order to determine the cytotoxic effects of the treatments. Mitochondrial function was evaluated by measuring mitochondrial respiration, mtDNA content (RT-PCR), and mitochondrial mass (NAO). ROS production, antioxidant enzyme activity, and GSH/GSSG levels were analyzed using a fluorometric method. We show that high concentrations of melatonin potentiate the cytotoxic effects of radiotherapy and CDDP in HNSCC, which are associated with increased mitochondrial function in these cells. In HNSCC, melatonin induces intracellular ROS, whose accumulation plays an upstream role in mitochondria-mediated apoptosis and autophagy. Our findings indicate that melatonin, at high concentrations, combined with cisplatin and radiotherapy to improve its effectiveness, is a potential adjuvant agent.