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Int J Dermatol. 2010 Feb;49(2):218-26. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-4632.2009.04336.x.

Effects of vitamin C vs. multivitamin on melanogenesis: comparative study in vitro and in vivo.

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Departments of Dermatology and Biochemistry, Chung-Ang University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.



Vitamin C has been used for the treatment of hyperpigmented diseases. However, there is no study available on hypopigmenting effect of multivitamin.


To investigate the inhibitory effects of multivitamin and vitamin C on melanogenesis.


We assessed the effect of multivitamin and vitamin C on cell viability, melanogenesis, and mushroom tyrosinase. The antioxidant activity of multivitamin and vitamin C was measured. We performed the Western blot analysis to study the effect of multivitamin and vitamin C on the expression of tyrosinase, microphthalmia-associated transcription factor (MITF), extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), and Akt/protein kinase B. In a clinical trial, 20 melasma patients were treated with split face iontophoresis using either multivitamin or vitamin C. We evaluated the hypopigmenting effects of multivitamin and vitamin C through colorimetric measurement.


Both vitamin C and multivitamin inhibited melanogenesis with low cytotoxicity. Multivitamin reduced melanin contents greater than vitamin C. However, the effects of vitamin C are greater than those of multivitamin on mushroom tyrosinase inhibition and antioxidation. In the Western blot, the reduced tyrosinase expression and MITF level were observed only in multivitamin-treated group, and not in vitamin C-treated group. No changes of ERK and Akt activation were observed in both multivitamin and vitamin C-treated groups. After 12 weeks of treatment with iontophoresis, both multivitamin and vitamin C were effective for melasma.


Multivitamin has shown more anti-melanogenic effect than vitamin C via the downregulation of MITF.

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