Hordenine, a single compound produced during barley germination, inhibits melanogenesis in human melanocytes

Food Chem. 2013 Nov 1;141(1):174-81. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2013.03.017. Epub 2013 Mar 14.


Melanin plays an important role protecting skin against ultraviolet light injury. However, increased production and accumulation of melanin results in a large number of skin disorders. Here, we identified hordenine as an active compound from germinated barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) and investigated the effects of hordenine on melanogenesis and its mechanisms of action in human epidermal melanocytes. We measured melanin content, tyrosinase activity, expression of melanogenesis-related proteins, and cAMP production. Melanin content was significantly inhibited by hordenine. The intracellular cAMP level was also reduced by hordenine. In addition, expression of microphthalmia-associated transcription factor (MITF), an upstream transcription factor of tyrosinase as well as tyrosinase, tyrosinase related protein (TRP)-1, and TRP-2, was inhibited by hordenine. Taken together, these results show that hordenine inhibited melanogenesis by suppressing cAMP production, which is involved in the expression of melanogenesis-related proteins and suggest that hordenine may be an effective inhibitor of hyperpigmentation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cyclic AMP / metabolism
  • Down-Regulation / drug effects*
  • Germination*
  • Hordeum / chemistry
  • Hordeum / growth & development
  • Hordeum / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Interferon Type I / genetics
  • Interferon Type I / metabolism
  • Melanins / biosynthesis*
  • Melanocytes / cytology
  • Melanocytes / drug effects*
  • Melanocytes / metabolism*
  • Microphthalmia-Associated Transcription Factor / genetics
  • Microphthalmia-Associated Transcription Factor / metabolism
  • Oxidoreductases / genetics
  • Oxidoreductases / metabolism
  • Pregnancy Proteins / genetics
  • Pregnancy Proteins / metabolism
  • Tyramine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Tyramine / metabolism
  • Tyramine / pharmacology


  • Interferon Type I
  • MITF protein, human
  • Melanins
  • Microphthalmia-Associated Transcription Factor
  • Pregnancy Proteins
  • interferon tau
  • Cyclic AMP
  • Oxidoreductases
  • tyrosinase-related protein-1
  • hordenine
  • Tyramine