Objectives: Carotenoids and retinoic acid derivatives are topically applied for sun-protective and whitening purposes. Fucoxanthin is a carotenoid derived from edible sea algae, but its effect on melanogenesis has not been established. Therefore, we examined the effect of fucoxanthin on melanogenesis.
Methods: Inhibitory effects on tyrosinase activity, melanin formation in B16 melanoma and skin pigmentation in UVB-irradiated guinea-pigs were evaluated. To elucidate the action of fucoxanthin on melanogenesis, its effect on skin melanogenic mRNA expression was evaluated in UVB-irradiated mice. Fucoxanthin was given topically or orally to mice once a day and UVB irradiation was applied for 14 days. The effect of fucoxanthin on skin melanogenic mRNA expression was evaluated by real time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction.
Key findings: Fucoxanthin inhibited tyrosinase activity, melanogenesis in melanoma and UVB-induced skin pigmentation. Topical application of fucoxanthin (1%) significantly suppressed mRNA expression of cyclooxygenase (COX)-2, endothelin receptor A, p75 neurotrophin receptor (NTR), prostaglandin E receptor 1 (EP1), melanocortin 1 receptor (MC1R) and tyrosinase-related protein 1. The suppression of p75NTR, EP1 and MC1R expressions was observed at 0.01% application. Also, oral application of fucoxanthin (10 mg/kg) significantly suppressed expression of COX-2, p75NTR, EP1 and MC1R.
Conclusions: These results suggest that fucoxanthin exhibits anti-pigmentary activity by topical or oral application in UVB-induced melanogenesis. This effect of fucoxanthin may be due to suppression of prostaglandin (PG) E(2) synthesis and melanogenic stimulant receptors (neurotrophin, PGE(2) and melanocyte stimulating hormone expression).