We have previously found that mycelia culture broth of eight kinds of traditional herbal extracts fermented with Phellinus linteus (previously named as 8-HsPLCB) not only inhibited melanin and tyrosinase activity, but also reduced the contents of melanogenesis-related proteins, including tyrosinase and microphthalmia-associated transcription factor, in 3-isobutyl-1-methylxanthine-stimulated B16F0 melanoma cells. For a further study, the effect of 8-HsPLCB against skin pigmentation in brown guinea pigs with ultraviolet B (UVB)-induced hyperpigmentation was investigated. 8-HsPLCB (3%) and arbutin (2%) as positive controls were applied topically twice daily for 4 weeks to the hyperpigmented areas. 8-HsPLCB showed skin-lightening effect as effective as arbutin, one of the most widely used in whitening cosmetics. Melanin index values as the degree of pigmentation showed a significant reduction week by week post 8-HsPLCB treatment and then substantially reduced by 4 weeks. The degree of depigmentation after 4 weeks of topical application with 8-HsPLCB was 32.2% as compared with before treatment (0 week). Moreover, using Fontana-Masson staining and hematoxylin-eosin staining, 8-HsPLCB reduced melanin pigmentation in the basal layer of the epidermis and epidermal thickness changes exposed to the UV-B irradiation as compared with non-treatment and vehicle treatment. The intensity of the skin-lightening effect of 8-HsPLCB was similar to arbutin. These results suggest that the skin-lightening effect of 8-HsPLCB might be resulted from inhibition of melanin synthesis by tyrosinase in melanocytes. To conclude, 8-HsPLCB treatment showed reduction of the melanin pigment and histological changes induced by UV irradiation in brown guinea pigs.
Keywords: Fermentation; UV radiation; epidermal thickness; melanin index; skin-whitening effect.