Pineal gland protects against chemically induced oral carcinogenesis and inhibits tumor progression in rats
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Clinical investigations suggest that melatonin suppression and circadian dysfunction may be related to cancer development in shift workers. Studies also show that melatonin suppression after pinealectomy increases cancer incidence in preclinical models. However, no study evaluated the influence of pinealectomy on oral cancer development. In the current study, we investigated the effects of pinealectomy on oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) occurrence and progression in rats. Rats submitted to sham surgery were used as control. Pinealectomy promoted an increase of 140% in OSCC occurrence when compared to sham animals. Tumors from pinealectomized rats displayed a higher volume and thickness than the tumors from sham-operated animals. Pinealectomy induced atrophy of the epithelium adjacent to the oral lesions. Pinealectomized rats showed higher mean number of tumor-associated macrophages and eosinophils in the invasive front of OSCC. In addition, nuclear overexpression of ERK1/2 and p53 was also observed in the front of carcinomas from pinealectomized rats. These results reveal that pineal gland plays a protective role against oral carcinogenesis. The melatonin suppression caused by the pinealectomy might contribute to oral cancer development by acting on ERK1/2 and p53 pathways and regulating tumor inflammation.
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