• Melatonin;
  • gastric cancer;
  • CD4+CD25+ Tregs;
  • Foxp3


Melatonin is an important immune modulator with antitumor functions, and increased CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells (Tregs) have been observed in tumor tissues of patients and animal models with gastric cancer. However, the relationship between melatonin and Tregs remains unclear. To explore this potential connection, we performed an in vivo study by inoculating the murine foregastric carcinoma (MFC) cell line in mice and then treated them with different doses of melatonin (0, 25, 50, and 100 mg/kg, i.p.) for 1 week. The results showed that melatonin could reduce the tumor tissue and decrease Tregs numbers and Forkhead box p3 (Foxp3) expression in the tumor tissue. An in vitro study was also performed to test the effects of purified Tregs on melatonin-mediated inhibition of MFC cells. The cell cultures were divided into three groups: 1) MFC+ Tregs; 2) MFC only; and 3) MFC+CD4+CD25 T cells. After treatment with different concentrations of melatonin (0, 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 mM) for 24 h, a dose-dependent apoptosis and cell cycle arrest at the G2/M phase was detected in melatonin-treated MFC at melatonin concentration higher than 4 mM. There were no significant differences in the rates of apoptosis and cell cycle distributions of MFC among the three groups. In conclusion, the antigastric cancer effect of melatonin is associated with downregulation of CD4+CD25+ Tregs and its Foxp3 expression in the tumor tissue. Anat Rec, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.