N-acetylcysteine protects melanocytes against oxidative stress/damage and delays onset of ultraviolet-induced melanoma in mice

Murray A. Cotter, Joshua Thomas, Pamela Cassidy, Kyle Robinette, Noah Jenkins, Scott R. Florell, Sancy Leachman, Wolfram E. Samlowski, Douglas Grossman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


Purpose: UV radiation is the major environmental risk factor for melanoma and a potent inducer of oxidative stress, which is implicated in the pathogenesis of several malignancies. We evaluated whether the thiol antioxidant N-acetylcysteine (NAC) could protect melanocytes from UV-induced oxidative stress/damage in vitro and from UV-induced melanoma in vivo. Experimental Design: In vitro experiments used the mouse melanocyte line melan-a. For in vivo experiments, mice transgenic for hepatocyte growth factor and survivin, shown previously to develop melanoma following a single neonatal dose of UV irradiation,were given NAC (7mg/mL; mother's drinking water) transplacentally and through nursing until 2 weeks after birth. Results: NAC (1-10 mmol/L) protected melan-a cells from several UV-induced oxidative sequelae, including production of intracellular peroxide, formation of the signature oxidative DNA lesion 8-oxoguanine, and depletion of free reduced thiols (primarily glutathione). Delivery of NAC reduced thiol depletion and blocked formation of 8-oxoguanine inmouse skin following neonatal UV treatment. Mean onset of UV-induced melanocytic tumors was significantly delayed in NAC-treated compared with control mice (21 versus 14 weeks; P = 0.0003). Conclusions: Our data highlight the potential importance of oxidative stress in the pathogenesis of melanoma and suggest that NAC may be useful as a chemopreventive agent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5952-5958
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 1 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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