Mutagenicity of melanin from human red hair

Experientia. 1980 Mar 15;36(3):291-2. doi: 10.1007/BF01952282.


The Salmonella typhimurium histidine reversion test of Ames et al. was used to demonstrate the pheomelanin, the red-brown polymeric pigment produced in human skin and hair, becomes mutagenic after exposure to long wave-length UV-light; a finding consistent with the UV-induced somatic mutation hypothesis for the origin of freckles and the high susceptibility of redheads and blonds to sunlight-induced skin cancers.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Hair / analysis*
  • Hair Color*
  • Humans
  • Melanins / adverse effects
  • Melanins / radiation effects*
  • Melanosis / etiology
  • Mutagens*
  • Skin Neoplasms / etiology
  • Ultraviolet Rays / adverse effects


  • Melanins
  • Mutagens
  • pheomelanin