McMaster University

McMaster University

Lennard P. Niles

Professor, Psychiatry & Behavioural Neurosciences

B.A., University of Western Ontario;
M.Sc. Ph.D., University of Toronto

Tel: 905-525-9140, ext. 22224
Fax: 905-522-8804



Dr. Niles' research interests are in the areas of cellular and molecular neuroendocrinology and neuropharmacology, with relevance to brain function and behaviour. Various approaches are used to study the pineal hormone, melatonin, which is involved in multiple aspects of mammalian physiology, including neuroendocrine activity, neuroprotection and circadian rhythmicity. The epigenetic mechanisms underlying the effects of psychotropic drugs such as valproic acid, and other histone deacetylase inhibitors are also of interest.

Current research studies include:

  • Neuroprotection in animal models of neurodegeneration especially Parkinson's disease.
  • Regulation of G protein-coupled melatonin receptors.
  • Induction of neurotrophic factor (GDNF, BDNF, CDNF, MANF) expression in the CNS and cultured cells.
  • Drug effects on neural stem cell differentiation.

Selected Publications

  • Sharma R, Ottenhof T, Rzeczkowska PR, Niles LP: Epigenetic targets for melatonin:  Induction of histone H3 hyperacetylation and gene expression in C17.2 neural stem cells. J. Pineal Res. 45:277-284 (2008).

  • Kim B, Rincón Castro LM, Jawed S, Niles, LP: Clinically relevant concentrations of valproic acid modulate melatonin MT1 receptor, HDAC and MeCP2 mRNA expression in C6 glioma cells. Eur. J. Pharmacol. 589:45-48 (2008).
  • Jawed S, Kim B, Ottenhof T, Brown GM, Werstiuk ES and Niles LP: Human melatonin MT1 receptor induction by valproic acid and its effects in combination with melatonin on MCF-7 breast cancer cell proliferation. Eur. J. Pharmacol. 560:17-22 (2007).

  • McMillan CR, Sharma R, Ottenhof T and Niles LP: Modulation of tyrosine hydroxylase expression by melatonin in human SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells. Neurosci. Lett. 419: 202-206 (2007).
  • Sharma R, McMillan CR, Niles LP.: Neural stem cell transplantation and melatonin treatment in a model of Parkinson’s disease. J. Pineal Res. 43:245-254 (2007).
  • Niles, L.P.: Melatonin in neurodevelopment and neuroprotection. In: Montilla, P. and Túnez, I. (Eds), Melatonin: present and future, pp. 299-314, Nova Science  Publishers, Inc.,  New York, 2007.

  • Sharma R, McMillan CR, Tenn CC and Niles LP: Physiological neuroprotection by melatonin in a model of Parkinson’s disease. Brain Res.1068:230-236 (2006).
  • Niles, L.P.: Molecular mechanisms of melatonin action: Targets in sleep regulation.  In Cardinali, D.P.and Pandi-Perumal, S.R. (Eds), Neuroendocrine correlates of sleep/wakefulness, pp.119-135, Springer, New York, 2006.

  • Rincón Castro, L.M., Gallant, M.J. and Niles, L.P.: Novel targets for valproic acid:Upregulation of  melatonin receptors and neurotrophic factors in C6 glioma cells. J. Neurochem. 95:1227-1236 (2005).
  • Niles, L.P., Armstrong, K.J., Rincón Castro, L.M., Dao, C.V., Sharma, R., McMillan,C.R., Doering, L.C, and Kirkham, D.L.: Neural stem cells express melatonin receptors and neurotrophic factors: Colocalization of the MT1 receptor with neuronal and glial markers. BMC Neuroscience 5:41 (2004).
  • Niles, L.P.: Melatonin interaction with BZ-GABAa receptors: Implications for sleep induction. In: Lader, M. Cardinali, D.P. and Pandi-Perumal, S.R. (Eds), Sleep and Sleep  Disorders: A Neuropsychopharmacological approach (Vol. I & II),  Landes Bioscience, Georgetown TX,  2004 Online:
  • Armstrong, K.J. and Niles, L.P. : Induction of GDNF mRNA expression by melatonin in rat C6 glioma cells. NeuroReport 13: 473-475 (2002).

  • Tenn, C.C. and Niles, L.P. : Modulation of dopaminergic activity in the striatum by benzodiazepines and melatonin. Pharmacol. Rev. Commun. 12:171-178 (2002).

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