Genomic expression changes induced by topical N-acetyl glucosamine in skin equivalent cultures in vitro

J Cosmet Dermatol. 2007 Dec;6(4):232-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1473-2165.2007.00339.x.


N-acetyl glucosamine (NAG) has been shown to be effective in reducing the appearance of hyperpigmented spots. From published in vitro mechanistic testing, glucosamine inhibits enzymatic glycosylation, a required processing step in converting inactive human pro-tyrosinase to the active tyrosinase, a key enzyme in the production of melanin. There is also published literature discussing the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of glucosamine compounds. To identify additional mechanisms by which NAG might affect melanin production, an in vitro genomics experiment was conducted in SkinEthic skin equivalent cultures, which were topically dosed with NAG vs. a vehicle control. Relative to vehicle, NAG reduced melanin production, and the expression of several pigmentation-relevant genes were affected (down-regulated or up-regulated) by NAG treatment. Thus, there are several mechanisms that may be operative in the observed pigmentation effects.

MeSH terms

  • Acetylglucosamine / administration & dosage
  • Acetylglucosamine / therapeutic use
  • Acetylglucosamine / toxicity*
  • Administration, Cutaneous
  • Dermatologic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Dermatologic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Dermatologic Agents / toxicity*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Hyperpigmentation / drug therapy
  • Melanins / biosynthesis
  • Melanins / genetics
  • Skin / drug effects*
  • Skin / metabolism
  • Tissue Culture Techniques


  • Dermatologic Agents
  • Melanins
  • Acetylglucosamine