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J Endocrinol. 1986 Apr;109(1):15-21.

Melanocyte-stimulating hormone, tyrosinase activity and the regulation of eumelanogenesis and phaeomelanogenesis in the hair follicular melanocytes of the mouse.


Skin tyrosinase levels and the eumelanin and phaeomelanin contents of the hair were measured in pubertal and adult C3H-HeA*vy mice that grow dark and golden yellow hair respectively. Hair growth was initiated by plucking and the skin tyrosinase levels, which increased during the growth of new hair and peaked at around 9 days after plucking, were higher during the growth of dark hair in the pubertal mice than during the growth of yellow hair in the adult mice. Although there was only a twofold difference in the phaeomelanin contents of these two types of hair, the dark hair of the pubertal mice contained over 20 times more eumelanin than the golden-yellow hair of the adult mice. These results suggest that the changes in coat colour in C3H-HeA*vy mice are due mainly to changes in eumelanin synthesis by the hair follicular melanocytes and that the production of this pigment requires higher levels of the enzyme tyrosinase than does the production of phaeomelanin. These changes did not appear to be related to plasma alpha-MSH levels. Nevertheless, administration of alpha-MSH increased skin tyrosinase activity in the pubertal mice that were growing dark hair and produced a twofold increase in the eumelanin content of the hair. However, it had no such effects in adult mice and also failed to affect the phaeomelanin content of the hair in both groups of mice. In contrast to alpha-MSH, bromocriptine decreased skin tyrosinase levels and the eumelanin content and increased the phaeomelanin content of the hair in pubertal mice.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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