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J Biol Chem. 1996 Nov 8;271(45):28052-6.

Ultraviolet B radiation acts through the nitric oxide and cGMP signal transduction pathway to stimulate melanogenesis in human melanocytes.

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  • 1INSERM U385, Faculté de Médecine, Avenue de Valombrose, 06107 Nice Cedex 02, France.


Ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation is the main physiological stimulus for human skin pigmentation; however, the molecular mechanisms underlying this process are still unclear. Recently, nitric oxide (NO) and cGMP have been involved in mediation of skin erythema induced by UVB. Therefore, we investigated the role of NO and cGMP in UVB-induced melanogenesis. In this study, we demonstrated that UVB stimulation of melanogenesis was mimicked by exogenous NO donors. Additionally, we showed that NO stimulated cGMP synthesis and that cGMP was also a potent stimulator of melanogenesis. Furthermore, the inhibition of the melanogenic effect of NO by guanylate cyclase inhibitor demonstrated that NO mediated its effect through the activation of guanylyl cyclase. Interestingly, 1 min after UVB irradiation, we observed a significant increase in cGMP content in melanocytes. The effects of UVB on cGMP production and on melanogenesis were blocked by both guanylate cyclase and NO synthase inhibitors. Additionally, inhibition of cGMP-dependent kinase also prevented the stimulation of melanogenesis by UVB and NO. Therefore, we concluded that NO and cGMP production is required for UVB-induced melanogenesis and that cGMP mediated its melanogenic effects mainly through the activation of cGMP-dependent kinase.

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