Epigenetic modification in 4T1 mouse breast cancer model by artificial light at night and melatonin–the role of DNA-methyltransferase

Sahar Agbaria, Abraham Haim, Fuad Fares, Abed E. Zubidat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Currently, one of the most disputed hypotheses regarding breast cancer (BC) development is exposure to short wavelength artificial light at night (ALAN) as multiple studies suggest a possible link between them. This link is suggested to be mediated by nocturnal melatonin suppression that plays an integral role in circadian regulations including cell division. The objective of the research was to evaluate effects of 1 × 30 min/midnight ALAN (134 µ Wcm −2 , 460 nm) with or without nocturnal melatonin supplement on tumor development and epigenetic responses in 4T1 tumor-bearing BALB/c mice. Mice were monitored for body mass (W b ) and tumor volume for 3 weeks and thereafter urine samples were collected at regular intervals for determining daily rhythms of 6-sulfatoxymelatonin (6-SMT). Finally, mice were sacrificed and the tumor, lungs, liver, and spleen were excised for analyzing the total activity of DNA methyltransferases (DNMT) and global DNA methylation (GDM) levels. Mice exposed to ALAN significantly reduced 6-SMT levels and increased W b , tumor volume, and lung metastasis compared with controls. These effects were diminished by melatonin. The DNMT activity and GDM levels showed tissue-specific response. The enzymatic activity and GDM levels were lower in tumor and liver and higher in spleen and lungs under ALAN compared with controls. Our results suggest that ALAN disrupts the melatonin rhythm and potentially leading to increased BC burden by affecting DNMT activity and GDM levels. These data may also be applicable to early detection and management of BC by monitoring melatonin and GDM levels as early biomarker of ALAN circadian disruption.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)629-643
Number of pages15
JournalChronobiology International
Issue number5
StatePublished - 4 May 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, © 2019 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • Cosinor analysis
  • DNA methyltransferases
  • global DNA methylation
  • melatonin
  • splenomegaly
  • tissue-specific

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology (medical)
  • Physiology


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