Chemotherapy-induced neuropathic pain is a common side effect of cancer treatment and can be severe enough to require dose reduction or treatment cessation.
Researchers investigated the potential of melatonin, a potent antioxidant, to reduce mitochondrial damage and neuropathic pain resulting from the chemotherapy drug paclitaxel.
In vitro, paclitaxel was observed to reduce mitochondrial membrane potential and metabolic activity by 50%; however, these effects were prevented with the addition of melatonin. Treatment with melatonin did not inhibit the cytotoxic action of paclitaxel in two relevant cancer lines.
In a rat model, pre-treatment with oral melatonin administered in drinking water was protective. It limited the development of mechanical hypersensitivity in male and female animals by 50% and 41% respectively. An additive effect was found when melatonin was given with duloxetine.
Melatonin is a potential treatment to limit the development of painful neuropathy resulting from chemotherapy treatment, the researchers concluded in the Journal of Pineal Research (22 September 2017)
 Galley H, McCormick B, Wilson K et al. Melatonin limits paclitaxel-induced mitochondrial dysfunction in vitro and protects against paclitaxel-induced neuropathic pain in the rat. J Pineal Res 2017;e12444. doi: 10.1111/jpi.12444