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Lipids. 2010 May;45(5):401-7. doi: 10.1007/s11745-010-3405-4. Epub 2010 Mar 30.

Saponified evening primrose oil reduces melanogenesis in B16 melanoma cells and reduces UV-induced skin pigmentation in humans.

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Department of Biochemistry, Medical School and Diabetes Research Center, Chonbuk National University, Jeonju, Jeonbuk 561-756, Korea.


This study was conducted to determine whether saponified evening primrose oil (sap-EPO) has the potential for use as a whitening agent and to investigate its underlying mechanisms of action. In B16 melanoma cells, sap-EPO dose-dependently inhibited isobutylmethylxanthine-induced melanogenesis with no cytotoxicity. This decrease in melanin production was correlated with reduced enzyme activity and decreased mRNA and protein levels of tyrosinase. The mRNA levels of tyrosinase-related proteins 1 and 2 decreased in response to treatment with sap-EPO, indicating that it regulated tyrosinase at the transcriptional level. Expression of microphthalmia-associated transcription factor was also decreased by sap-EPO as evidenced by decreased mRNA and protein levels. Additionally, topical application of sap-EPO resulted in efficient whitening of UVB-induced hyperpigmentation of human skin. Taken together, these results suggest that sap-EPO has the potential for use as a cosmetic whitening agent.

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