The effects of Sophora angustifolia and other natural plant extracts on melanogenesis and melanin transfer in human skin cells

Exp Dermatol. 2013 Jan;22(1):67-9. doi: 10.1111/exd.12061.


Skin pigmentation is a multistep process of melanin synthesis by melanocytes, its transfer to recipient keratinocytes and its degradation. As dyspigmentation is a prominent marker of skin ageing, novel effective agents that modulate pigmentation safely are being sought for both clinical and cosmetic use. Here, a number of plant extracts were examined for their effect on melanogenesis (by melanin assay and Western blotting) and melanin transfer (by confocal immunomicroscopy of gp100-positive melanin granules in cocultures and by SEM analysis of filopodia), in human melanocytes and in cocultures with phototype-matched normal adult epidermal keratinocytes. Mulberry, Kiwi and Sophora extracts were assessed against isobutylmethylxanthine, hydroquinone, vitamin C and niacinamide. Compared with unstimulated control, all extracts significantly reduced melanogenesis in human melanoma cells and normal adult epidermal melanocytes. These extracts also reduced melanin transfer and reduced filopodia expression on melanocytes, similar to hydroquinone and niacinamide, indicating their effectiveness as multimode pigmentation actives.

Publication types

  • Letter
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 1-Methyl-3-isobutylxanthine / pharmacology
  • Actinidia*
  • Ascorbic Acid / pharmacology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Coculture Techniques
  • Fruit
  • Humans
  • Hydroquinones / pharmacology
  • Keratinocytes / drug effects
  • Keratinocytes / metabolism
  • Melanins / biosynthesis*
  • Melanins / metabolism
  • Melanocytes / drug effects*
  • Melanocytes / metabolism
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Morus*
  • Niacinamide / pharmacology
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plant Leaves
  • Plant Roots
  • Sophora*


  • Hydroquinones
  • Melanins
  • Plant Extracts
  • Niacinamide
  • Ascorbic Acid
  • 1-Methyl-3-isobutylxanthine
  • hydroquinone