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Br J Dermatol. 2019 Dec 23. doi: 10.1111/bjd.18819. [Epub ahead of print]

Fluoxetine promotes human hair follicle pigmentation ex vivo: Serotonin re-uptake inhibition as a new anti-greying strategy?

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Monasterium Laboratory, Münster, Germany.
Dr. Phillip Frost Department of Dermatology & Cutaneous Surgery, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, USA.
Centre for Dermatology Research, University of Manchester, NIHR Manchester Biomedical Research Centre, Manchester, United Kingdom.


The commonly prescribed anti-depressant, fluoxetine, has been reported to (rarely) induce epidermal hyperpigmentation after systemic application1 . This selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) also can stimulate melanin production in murine hair follicles (HFs) in vivo under conditions of perceived stress and in cultured human epidermal melanocytes in vitro2,3 . Given the distinct neuroendocrine controls that human HF melanocytes underlie compared to epidermal melanocytes4 and that any pigmentary effects of fluoxetine observed in vivo may have been indirectly mediated, it has as yet remained entirely unclear whether fluoxetine impacts directly on human HF pigmentation, namely in the absence of systemic and neural inputs.


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