Melanin is a major factor that darkens skin color as one of the defense systems to prevent the harmful effects of UV light. However, darkened skin from the localized or systemic accumulation of melanin is viewed in many cultures as an esthetic problem. Consequentially, searching for antimelanogenic agents from natural sources is very popular worldwide. Previous screening of fermented rice products, obtained from various rice cultivars fermented with different sources of loog-pang (Thai traditional fermentation starter), revealed that the highest ability to reduce the melanin content in B16F10 melanoma cells was from unpolished black rice fermented with a defined starter mixture of microbes isolated from loog-pang E11. The aim of this study was to investigate the mechanism of the fermented unpolished black rice (FUBR) on the inhibition of melanogenesis in B16F10 melanoma cells. The strongest reduction of cellular melanin content was found in the FUBR sap (FUBRS). The melanin reduction activity was consistent with the significant decrease in the intracellular tyrosinase activity. The FUBRS showed no cytotoxic effect to B16F10 melanoma or Hs68 human fibroblast cell lines. It also significantly reduced the transcript and protein expression levels of tyrosinase, tyrosinase-related protein 1 (TYRP-1), TYRP-2, and microphthalmia-associated transcription factor. Furthermore, it induced a significantly increased level of phosphorylated ERK, p38 and Akt signaling pathways, which likely contributed to the negative regulation of melanogenesis. From these results, a model for the mechanism of FUBRS on melanogenesis inhibition was proposed. Moreover, these results strongly suggested that FUBRS possesses antimelanogenesis activity with high potential for cosmeceutical application as a skin depigmenting agent.
Keywords: Fermented rice; Hom Nin rice; Oryza sativa L.; melanogenesis inhibition; melanogenesis-related proteins; unpolished black rice.