Growth suppression of hamster flank organs by topical application of catechins, alizarin, curcumin, and myristoleic acid

Arch Dermatol Res. 2001 Apr;293(4):200-5. doi: 10.1007/s004030000203.


Hamster flank organ growth, as measured by an increase in the area of the pigmented macule, is androgen-dependent. When flank organs of a castrated hamster are treated topically with testosterone, the flank organ becomes larger and darker. Since this growth is known to be dependent on the intracellular active androgen, 5alpha-dihydrotestosterone (DHT), inhibitors of 5alpha-reductase which converts testosterone to DHT can inhibit the growth of the flank organ. Certain unsaturated aliphatic fatty acids, such as gamma-linolenic acid and myristoleic acid, as well as other natural compounds, including alizarin and curcumin, are 5alpha-reductase inhibitors and inhibited flank organ growth. Green tea catechins, including (-)-epicatechin-3-gallate, and (-)-epigallo-catechin-3-gallate (EGCG) are also 5alpha-reductase inhibitors and inhibited flank organ growth. However, (-)-epicatechin and (-)-epigallocatechin, which are not 5alpha-reductase inhibitors, also inhibited flank organ growth. EGCG also inhibited DHT-dependent growth of flank organs. These catechins, therefore, may act by a mechanism other than inhibition of 5alpha-reductase. The effect of EGCG and other compounds was localized at the site of application; they did not affect the growth of the contralateral flank organ in the same animal. Since these compounds do not appear to exhibit systemic effects, they may be potentially useful for treatment of androgen-dependent skin disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Androgens / physiology
  • Animals
  • Anthraquinones / pharmacology*
  • Catechin / pharmacology*
  • Cricetinae / growth & development*
  • Curcumin / pharmacology*
  • Fatty Acids, Monounsaturated / pharmacology*
  • Growth Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Mesocricetus
  • Orchiectomy
  • Sebaceous Glands / drug effects*
  • Sebaceous Glands / growth & development*
  • Testosterone / physiology


  • Androgens
  • Anthraquinones
  • Fatty Acids, Monounsaturated
  • Growth Inhibitors
  • Testosterone
  • alizarin
  • Catechin
  • Curcumin
  • 9-tetradecenoic acid