Recent progress in melasma pathogenesis

Pigment Cell Melanoma Res. 2015 Nov;28(6):648-60. doi: 10.1111/pcmr.12404. Epub 2015 Sep 8.


Melasma is a common skin pigmentation condition. Given therapeutic difficulty as one of the biggest concerns, understanding of the etiology and pathogenesis of melasma becomes essential. UV irradiation, female sex hormones, and inflammatory processes are addressed as triggering factors with genetic predisposition. The mechanism of UV-induced melanogenesis has been extensively investigated as a model system to study melasma pathogenesis. Hitherto, treatment modalities for melasma are similar to other hyperpigmentation disorders. However, individual triggering factors induce a separate pigmentation disease, whose pathogenic mechanisms and clinical phenotypes are different from the ones encountered in melasma. Fortunately, there have been ongoing updates on melasma pathogenesis with regard to major triggering factors. Presence of certain factors working independently of UV exposure and role of dermal factors and microRNAs are being identified as novel discoveries about melasma pathogenesis. In this review, the melasma pathogenesis is reviewed in association with updated and new findings.

Keywords: UV; UV exposure-independent factors; dermal factors; estrogen; melasma; microRNAs; pathogenesis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Melanosis / etiology*
  • Melanosis / genetics
  • Models, Biological
  • Risk Factors
  • Skin Pigmentation