Human melanogenesis is stimulated by diacylglycerol

J Invest Dermatol. 1989 Nov;93(5):700-2. doi: 10.1111/1523-1747.ep12319900.


The intracellular signal pathways that mediate pigmentation in human skin are unknown. We now report that a diacylglycerol (DAG) analogue 1-oleoyl-2-acetyl-glycerol (OAG) 25-100 microns strikingly increased the melanin content of cultured human melanocytes in a dose dependent manner without altering growth rate. The pigment increase occurred within 24 h, was accompanied by increased incorporation of the melanin precursor L-3,4-dihydroxyphenyl alanine (DOPA), required new protein synthesis, and was completely blocked by the protein kinase C (PKC) inhibitors H-7 and sphingosine. A PKC-inactive DAG isomer had no effect on melanin per cell. These results implicate protein kinase C and its effector DAG in melanogenesis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • 1-(5-Isoquinolinesulfonyl)-2-Methylpiperazine
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cycloheximide / pharmacology
  • Dactinomycin / pharmacology
  • Diglycerides / pharmacology*
  • Enzyme Activation / drug effects
  • Glycerides / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Isoquinolines / pharmacology
  • Melanins / biosynthesis*
  • Piperazines / pharmacology
  • Protein Kinase C / physiology
  • Skin Pigmentation / drug effects
  • Sphingosine / pharmacology


  • Diglycerides
  • Glycerides
  • Isoquinolines
  • Melanins
  • Piperazines
  • Dactinomycin
  • 1-(5-Isoquinolinesulfonyl)-2-Methylpiperazine
  • 1-oleoyl-2-acetylglycerol
  • Cycloheximide
  • Protein Kinase C
  • Sphingosine