OBJECTIVE: It has been demonstrated that the hematopoiesis is under a neuroendocrine control, namely mediated by the pineal gland. The pineal indole melatonin (MLT) has appeared to exert thrombopoietic and lymphopoietic activity, whereas it has no relevant effect on red cell differentiation. The present study was performed to evaluate the influence of another pineal indole, the 5-methoxytryptamine (5-MTT) on red cell line and hemoglobin production.
MATERIALS & METHODS: The study was carried out in metastatic lung cancer patients who underwent a chemotherapeutic combination containing cisplatin, which is known to induce anemia. The study included 20 patients treated with cisplatin plus etoposide, who were randomized to receive chemotherapy alone or chemotherapy plus 5-MTT (1 mg/day orally at noon every day).
RESULTS: Hemoglobin mean blood concentrations significantly decreased in both groups of patients. However, the decrease in hemoglobin levels observed in patients treated with chemotherapy alone was significantly higher with respect to that observed in patients concomitantly treated with 5-MTT. Moreover, the percent of patients who had no progressive disease on treatment was significantly higher in the group treated with chemotherapy plus 5-MTT.
CONCLUSIONS: Even though the low number of patients does not allow us to draw define conclusions, these preliminary results would show that the concomitant administration of 5-MTT may reduce cisplatin-induced anemia in cancer patients, by suggesting a hematopoietic activity of 5-MTT on red cell line differentiation and hemoglobin production. Moreover, the study would suggest that 5-MTT, as well as previously demonstrated for MLT, may also enhance the cytotoxic activity of cancer chemotherapy.