Phase I dose-finding study for melatonin in pediatric oncology patients with relapsed solid tumors


Background: Melatonin is a natural health product used for sleep disturbances. In preliminary studies of adults with advanced cancer, 20 mg of melatonin daily was associated with reduction in anorexia and weight loss-symptoms that also impact pediatric oncology patients. High doses of melatonin have not been studied in pediatrics.

Methods: This was a multicenter single-arm phase I dose-escalation study utilizing a 3 + 3 design to determine the safety and tolerability of escalating doses of melatonin in pediatric oncology patients with relapsed solid tumors. Melatonin was given for 8 weeks at three dose levels-0.075 mg/kg (maximum 5 mg), 0.15 mg/kg (maximum 10 mg), and 0.3 mg/kg (maximum 20 mg).

Results: Melatonin was well tolerated at all three dose levels with no significant adverse events or dose-limiting toxicities. The only grade 3/4 toxicities were myelosuppression, which was attributed to the concomitant chemotherapy and occurred at all dose levels. Weight gain occurred in seven of nine patients, with a median increase of 1.1 kg (range -3.3 to 4.5) or 3.4% (range -10.2 to 8.7), with two patients losing weight (one in dose level 1 and one level 3).

Conclusions: Melatonin is well tolerated at a dose of 0.3 mg/kg (maximum 20 mg), in the pediatric population. This study provides the background for further study of high-dose melatonin in pediatric oncology patients.

Lead Researchers

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  1. Donna Johnston

    Investigator, CHEO Research Institute

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