Helix aspersa maxima mucus exhibits antimelanogenic and antitumoral effects against melanoma cells

Biomed Pharmacother. 2018 May:101:871-880. doi: 10.1016/j.biopha.2018.03.020. Epub 2018 Mar 22.


Snail secretion is currently revolutionizing the world of cosmetics and human skin care. The efficacy of snail secretion in wounds healing has been proven both in vitro and by clinical studies. However, the potential anti-tumor effect of snail secretion was poorly investigated. In this report, our in vitro study showed that Helix aspersa maxima species snail slime (SS) could not only treat melanogenesis but also endowed with anti-tumoral activity against human melanoma cells. Indeed, SS reduced melanin content and tyrosinase activity on B16F10 cells with IC50 values of 288 μg/mL and 286 μg/mL, respectively, without altering cell viability. This effect was also observed, at a lesser extent, on human melanoma IGR-39 and SK-MEL-28 cell lines. On another hand, SS specifically inhibited the viability of IGR-39 and SK-MEL-28 cells associated to an apoptotic effect highlighted by PARP cleavage. It is worth to note that SS did not affect the viability of B16F10 cells and non tumorigenic HaCaT cells. Interestingly, this extract was found to inhibit migration and invasion of both human melanoma cells through reducing the expression of Matrix metalloproteinase MMP2. Snail slime also exerted a high inhibitory effect on IGR-39 cell adhesion through blocking the function of α2β1 (45%), αvβ3 (38%) integrins and by reducing the expression levels of αv and β1 integrins. The presented results shed light on the potential anti-melanoma effect of SS and support its use against skin diseases.

Keywords: Integrins; Melanin; Melanoma; Skin cancer; Snail slime.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Carcinogenesis / drug effects
  • Carcinogenesis / pathology
  • Cell Adhesion / drug effects
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Movement / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Helix, Snails / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 2 / metabolism
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Melanins / metabolism
  • Melanoma / drug therapy*
  • Melanoma / pathology
  • Mucus / metabolism*
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness


  • Matrix Metalloproteinase Inhibitors
  • Melanins
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 2