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Pigment Cell Res. 1992 Sep;5(3):132-42.

Melanin standard method: particle description.

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Facility for Advanced Instrumentation, University of California-Davis.


Melanin isolated from the ink sac of Sepia officinalis (Sepia melanin) has been proposed as a standard for natural eumelanin. There are no standard methods for the isolation, purification, and storage of melanins. Mild methods designed to preserve the native composition and structure of melanin are needed. The specific aim of the present work, using Sepia melanin, was to develop a mild and generally applicable protocol for the isolation and purification of melanins. It is well established that melanin polymers contain a large number of free carboxylic acid residues. These anionic residues are responsible for the cation exchange properties observed for melanins. Heating melanins with hydrochloric acid at reflux has been demonstrated to lead to extensive decarboxylation. Indeed, heat alone has been shown to cause decarboxylation, and care must be exercised to avoid such conditions. By analogy with cation exchange resins, melanins should be isolated and named according to the associated counterion (e.g., Sepia melanin--K+ form). The method reported here avoided extremes in pH and temperature, and was designed to yield melanin in the K+ form. Physical disaggregation of particulate melanin using a wet milling step was also found to facilitate removal of significant quantities of adsorbed protein. The following physical parameters were used to monitor the purification and to characterize the resultant melanin: pH, conductance, particle size, and diffuse reflectance spectroscopy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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