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Cytotechnology. 2013 Nov 28. [Epub ahead of print]

Improved cosmetic activity by optimizing the Lithospermum erythrorhizon extraction process.

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  • 1Department of Medical Biomaterials Engineering, Kangwon National University, Chuncheon, Gangwon, 200-701, Republic of Korea.


This study was conducted to expand the use of Lithospermum erythrorhizon, which is a good source of natural dye, in skin whitening and immune activation cosmetics. The goal was to provide cosmeceutical data about the extraction yield and shikonin contents of this plant by optimizing the ultrasonic extraction and high pressure extraction conditions. Under optimal extraction conditions, which consisted of 500 MPa for 60 min and 120 kHz for 90 min, 27.49 and 3.19 % (w/w) of the highest extraction yield and shikonin contents were obtained, compared to 16.32 and 1.81 % from a conventional ethanol extract (EE) control. Hyaluronidase inhibition activity was measured as 44.24 % after adding 1.0 mg/ml of ethanol extract, but it was as high as 64.19 % when using extract produced by ultrasonication with high pressure extraction (UE + HPE). The MMP-1 expression levels from skin fibroblast cells (CCD-986sk) treated with or without UV irradiation were also lowered by as much as 110.6 % after adding 1.0 mg/ml of the UE + HPE extract, relative to 126.9 % from the EE. After UVA exposure, prostaglandin E2 production from RAW 264.7 was also lower, at 110.6 %, which also indicates that the extract from the UE + HPE process enhanced skin immune activation activities. For the skin whitening activity, tyrosinase inhibitory activity was observed at 67.15 % in the HPE + UE extract, which was ca. 20 % higher than that of the EE extract (57.48 %). To reduce melanin production in Clone M-3 cells, 79.5 % of the melanin production was estimated after adding 1.0 mg/ml of the UE + HPE extract compared to that of the control (no treatment), which was similar to the 77.4 % result found in an ascorbic acid positive control. The highest shikonin secretion was conclusively obtained under the optimal conditions and resulted in a significant improvement of the cosmetic activities of L. erythrorhizon extracts.

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