Effect of palmitoleic acid on melanogenic protein expression in murine b16 melanoma

J Oleo Sci. 2010;59(6):315-9. doi: 10.5650/jos.59.315.


Melanogenesis is a well-known physiological response of human skin that may occur because of exposure to ultraviolet light, for genetic reasons, or due to other causes. In our efforts to find new skin lightening agents, palmitoleic acid was investigated for its ability to inhibit melanogenesis. In this study, palmitoleic acid's effect on melanin formation was assessed. Results indicated that palmitoleic acid was shown to down-regulate melanin content in a dose-dependent pattern. To clarify the target of palmitoleic acid action in melanogenesis, we performed Western blotting for tyrosinase, tyrosinase-related protein-1 (TRP-1), TRP-2, and microphthalmia-associated transcription factor (MITF), which are key melanogenic enzymes. Palmitoleic acid inhibited tyrosinase, TRP-2, and MITF expressions in a dose-dependent manner. However, it did not inhibit TRP-1 expression. In order to assess its usefulness in future cosmetic product applications, the cytotoxic effects of the palmitoleic acid were also determined by colourimetric MTT assays using human keratinocyte HaCaT cells. Palmitoleic acid exhibited no cytotoxicity at 500 muM in a human cell line. Therefore, this study suggests that palmitoleic acid is a candidate anti-melanogenic agent, and it might be effective in hyperpigmentation disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Fatty Acids, Monounsaturated / pharmacology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Hyperpigmentation / drug therapy
  • Intramolecular Oxidoreductases / genetics
  • Intramolecular Oxidoreductases / metabolism
  • Keratinocytes / drug effects
  • Melanins / biosynthesis*
  • Melanoma, Experimental / genetics
  • Melanoma, Experimental / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Microphthalmia-Associated Transcription Factor / genetics
  • Microphthalmia-Associated Transcription Factor / metabolism
  • Monophenol Monooxygenase / metabolism
  • Oxidoreductases / genetics
  • Oxidoreductases / metabolism
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Fatty Acids, Monounsaturated
  • Melanins
  • Microphthalmia-Associated Transcription Factor
  • palmitoleic acid
  • Oxidoreductases
  • tyrosinase-related protein-1
  • Monophenol Monooxygenase
  • Intramolecular Oxidoreductases
  • dopachrome isomerase