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Concept: Melanin


The presence of dark melanin (eumelanin) within human epidermis represents one of the strongest predictors of low skin cancer risk. Topical rescue of eumelanin synthesis, previously achieved in “redhaired” Mc1r-deficient mice, demonstrated significant protection against UV damage. However, application of a topical strategy for human skin pigmentation has not been achieved, largely due to the greater barrier function of human epidermis. Salt-inducible kinase (SIK) has been demonstrated to regulate MITF, the master regulator of pigment gene expression, through its effects on CRTC and CREB activity. Here, we describe the development of small-molecule SIK inhibitors that were optimized for human skin penetration, resulting in MITF upregulation and induction of melanogenesis. When topically applied, pigment production was induced in Mc1r-deficient mice and normal human skin. These findings demonstrate a realistic pathway toward UV-independent topical modulation of human skin pigmentation, potentially impacting UV protection and skin cancer risk.

Concepts: DNA, Gene expression, Ultraviolet, Regulation of gene expression, Skin, Melanin, Human skin color, Melanocyte


Melanin is the main pigment in animal coloration and considerable variation in the concentrations of the two melanin forms (pheo- and eumlanin) in pigmented tissues exists among populations and individuals. Melanin-based coloration is receiving increasing attention particularly in socio-sexual communication contexts because the melanocortin system has been hypothesized to provide a mechanistic basis for covariation between coloration and fitness traits. However, with few notable exceptions, little detailed information is available on inter-individual and inter-population variation in melanin pigmentation and on its environmental, genetic and ontogenetic components. Here, we investigate melanin-based coloration in an Italian population of a passerine bird, the barn swallow (), its sex- and age-related variation, and heritability. The concentrations of eu- and pheomelanin in the throat (brown) and belly (white-to-brownish) feathers differed between sexes but not according to age. The relative concentration of either melanin (Pheo:Eu) differed between sexes in throat but not in belly feathers, and the concentrations in males compared to females were larger in belly than in throat feathers. There were weak correlations between the concentrations of melanins within as well as among plumage regions. Coloration of belly feathers was predicted by the concentration of both melanins whereas coloration of throat feathers was only predicted by pheomelanin in females. In addition, Pheo:Eu predicted coloration of throat feathers in females and that of belly feathers in males. Finally, we found high heritability of color of throat feathers. Melanization was found to differ from that recorded in from Scotland or from from North America. Hence, present results show that pigmentation strategies vary in a complex manner according to sex and plumage region, and also among geographical populations, potentially reflecting adaptation to different natural and sexual selection regimes, and that some coloration components seem to be highly heritable.

Concepts: Genetics, Male, Sexual dimorphism, Bird, Sex, Melanin, Pigment, Barn Swallow


Magnolia grandiflora L. flower is wildly used in Asian as a traditional herbal medication. The purpose of the study was to investigate the antimelanogenic and antioxidant properties of Magnolia grandiflora L. flower extract. In the study, the inhibitory effects of M. grandiflora L. flower extract on mushroom tyrosinase, B16F10 intracellular tyrosinase activity and melanin content were determined spectrophotometrically. Meanwhile, the antioxidative capacity of the flower extract was also investigated.

Concepts: Antioxidant, Melanin, Herbalism, Melanocyte, Tyrosinase, Magnolia, Magnolia grandiflora


Human skin color is predominantly determined by melanin produced in melanosomes within melanocytes and subsequently distributed to keratinocytes. There are many studies that have proposed mechanisms underlying ethnic skin color variations, whereas the processes involved from melanin synthesis in melanocytes to the transfer of melanosomes to keratinocytes are common among humans. Apart from the activities in the melanogenic rate-limiting enzyme, tyrosinase, in melanocytes and the amounts and distribution patterns of melanosomes in keratinocytes, the abilities of the actin-associated factors in charge of melanosome transport within melanocytes also regulate pigmentation. Mutations in genes encoding melanosome transport-related molecules, such as MYO5A, RAB27A and SLAC-2A, have been reported to cause a human pigmentary disease known as Griscelli syndrome, which is associated with diluted skin and hair color. Thus we hypothesized that process might play a role in modulating skin color variations. To address that hypothesis, the correlations of expression of RAB27A and its specific effector, SLAC2-A, to melanogenic ability were evaluated in comparison with tyrosinase, using human melanocytes derived from 19 individuals of varying skin types. Following the finding of the highest correlation in RAB27A expression to the melanogenic ability, darkly-pigmented melanocytes with significantly higher RAB27A expression were found to transfer significantly more melanosomes to keratinocytes than lightly-pigmented melanocytes in co-culture and in human skin substitutes (HSSs) in vivo, resulting in darker skin color in concert with the difference observed in African-descent and Caucasian skins. Additionally, RAB27A knockdown by a lentivirus-derived shRNA in melanocytes concomitantly demonstrated a significantly reduced number of transferred melanosomes to keratinocytes in co-culture and a significantly diminished epidermal melanin content skin color intensity (ΔL* = 4.4) in the HSSs. These data reveal the intrinsically essential role of RAB27A in human ethnic skin color determination and provide new insights for the fundamental understanding of regulatory mechanisms underlying skin pigmentation.

Concepts: Ultraviolet, Skin, Melanin, Race, Human skin color, Melanocyte, Eye color, Human skin


To analyze the effect of baseline presence and height of pigment epithelial detachments (PEDs) on visual and anatomic outcomes at 24 months in patients with neovascular age-related macular degeneration (AMD) treated with ranibizumab.

Concepts: Melanin, Macular degeneration, Ranibizumab


The aim of the present study was to evaluate the efficacy and safety of lignin peroxidase (LIP) as a skin-lightening agent in patients with melasma. A self-controlled clinical study was performed in 31 women who had melasma on both sides of the face. This study involved 8 weeks of a full-face product treatment. The skin color was measured at days 0, 7, 28 and 56 using a chromameter on the forehead and cheeks. Standardized digital photographic images of each side of the face of all subjects were captured by a complexion analysis system. Clinical scores of the pigmentation were determined by two dermatologists. After using the LIP whitening lotion for 7 days, the luminance (L*) values of the melasma and the normal skin were significantly increased from baseline. The L* values continued to increase at days 28 and 56. The melasma area severity index (MASI) score was statistically decreased after 28 days of treatment. No treatment-related adverse events were observed. LIP whitening lotion was able to eliminate the skin pigmentation after 7 days of treatment, and provides a completely innovative approach to rapid skin lightening. The LIP whitening lotion exhibited good compatibility and was well tolerated.

Concepts: Clinical trial, Skin, Melanin, Normal distribution, Adverse event, Human skin color, Sun tanning, Skin whitening


Glutathione in its reduced form (GSH) is an antioxidant and also is involved in pheomelanin formation. Thus, it has been long believed that GSH has a skin whitening effect. However, its actual or direct effect is unproven. We evaluated the anti-melanogenic effects of GSH and its derivatives in vitro. We examined change of melanogenesis and its related proteins by GSH itself and its derivatives, including GSH monoethyl ester (GSH-MEE), GSH diethyl ester (GSH-DEE) and GSH monoisopropyl ester (GSH-MIPE) in Melan-A cells, Mel-Ab cells, and B16F10 cells. GSH and GSH-MEE did not display cytotoxic activity, but GSH-MIPE and GSH-DEE did. Intriguingly, GSH itself had no inhibitory effect on melanin production or intracellular tyrosinase activity. Rather, it was GSH-MEE and GSH-MIPE that profoundly reduced the amount of melanin and intracellular tyrosinase activity. Thus, GSH-MEE was selected as a suitable candidate skin-whitening agent and it did not alter melanogenesis-associated proteins such as microphthalmia-associated transcription factor (MITF), tyrosinase, tyrosinase-related protein (TRP)-1, and TRP-2, but it did increase the amount of suggested pheomelanin and suggested pheomelanin/eumelanin ratio. GSH-MEE was effective for anti-melanogenesis, whereas GSH itself was not. GSH-MEE could be developed as a safe and efficient agent for the treatment of hyperpigmentation skin disorders.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Amino acid, Melanin, Melanocyte, Tyrosinase, Acetylcysteine, Skin whitening


Skin hyperpigmentation is characterized by increased melanin synthesis and deposition that can cause significant psychosocial and psychological distress. Although several cytokine-receptor signaling cascades contribute to the formation of ultraviolet B-induced cutaneous hyperpigmentation, their possible involvement in other types of skin hyperpigmentation has never been clearly addressed. Since our continuous studies using skin specimens from more than 30 subjects with ethnic skin diversity emphasized a consistent augmentation in the expression of endothelin-1 (ET-1) and its receptor (Endothelin B receptor, ET-B) in hyperpigmented lesions, including senile lentigos (SLs), the precise function of ET-1 signaling was investigated in the present study. In line with previous studies, ET-1 significantly induced melanogenesis followed by increases in melanosome transport in melanocytes and in its transfer to keratinocytes while inhibition of ET-B function substantially depressed melanogenic ability in tissue-cultured SLs. Additionally, in agreement with a previous report that the formation of autophagosomes rather than melanosomes is stimulated according to starvation or defective melanosome production, ET-1 was found to remarkably augment the expression of components necessary for early melanosome formation, indicating its counteraction against autophagy-targeting melanosome degradation in melanocytes. Despite the lack of substantial impact of ET-1 on keratinocyte melanogenic functions, the expression of ET-1 was enhanced following melanosome uptake by keratinocytes. Taken together, our data suggest that ET-1 plays a substantial role in the development and/or maintenance of skin hyperpigmentation in reciprocal cooperation with increased melanosome incorporation.

Concepts: Melanoma, Skin, Melanin, Epidermis, Human skin color, Skin anatomy, Melanocyte, Melanosome


Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of visual loss among the elderly. A key cell-type involved in AMD, the retinal pigment epithelium expresses a g-protein coupled receptor that, in response to its ligand, L-DOPA, upregulates pigment epithelia derived factor, while downregulating vascular endothelial growth factor. In this study we investigated the potential relationship between L-DOPA and AMD.

Concepts: Signal transduction, Epithelium, Retina, Melanin, Macular degeneration, Bruch's membrane, Drusen, Retinal pigment epithelium


While the role of genetic risk factors in the etiology of uveal melanoma (UM) has been strongly suggested, the genetic susceptibility to UM is currently vastly unexplored. Due to shared epidemiological risk factors between cutaneous melanoma (CM) and UM, in this study we have selected 28 SNPs identified as risk variants in previous genome-wide association studies on CM or CM-related host phenotypes (such as pigmentation and eye color) and tested them for association with UM risk. By logistic regression analysis of 272 UM cases and 1782 controls using an additive model, we identified five variants significantly associated with UM risk, all passing adjustment for multiple testing. The three most significantly associated variants rs12913832 (OR = 0.529, 95% CI 0.415-0.673; p = 8.47E-08), rs1129038 (OR = 0.533, 95% CI 0.419-0.678; p = 1.19E-07) and rs916977 (OR = 0.465, 95% CI 0.339-0.637; p = 3.04E-07) are correlated (r(2) > 0.5) and map at 15q12 in the region of HERC2/OCA2, which determines eye-color in the human population. Our data provides first evidence that the genetic factors associated with pigmentation traits are risk loci of UM susceptibility.

Concepts: Regression analysis, Logistic regression, Gene, Genetics, Population, Melanin, Uveal melanoma, Genetic epidemiology