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J Invest Dermatol. 1993 Aug;101(2):145-9.

Combination of 4-hydroxyanisole and all-trans retinoic acid produces synergistic skin depigmentation in swine.

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Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., Pharmaceutical Research Institute, Buffalo, New York 14213.


A combination of 4-hydroxyanisole (4HA) and all-trans retinoic acid (TRA) was found to synergistically cause moderate to complete depigmentation of Yucatan swine skin. Two hyperpigmentation models were used: Natural dark-skinned swine, a potential model for melasma-like disorders, and ultraviolet light-stimulated hyperpigmentation, a model of solar lentigines. Test materials were applied twice daily, 5 d/week, to dorsal flank skin. Application sites were graded at weekly intervals for skin color using a 0 to 4 grading scale. After 8 weeks of treatment of naturally dark swine skin, a combination of 2% 4HA and 0.01% TRA produced grade 2 hypopigmentation (definite but moderate hypopigmentation). In contrast, 2% 4HA alone or 0.01% TRA alone did not produce significant hypopigmentation. After cessation of treatment, the 4HA/TRA-treated sites reverted to normal color within 7-12 weeks. The 4HA/TRA combination completely reversed the hyperpigmentation induced by ultraviolet light after 8 weeks of treatment. In vitro skin-penetration studies using hairless mouse and human skin show that skin penetration of 4HA was not significantly affected by adding 0.01% TRA. These data suggest that the observed synergy is not due to enhanced bioavailability of 4HA. We have demonstrated that combining low concentrations of 4HA and TRA results in effective skin lightening without causing irreversible depigmentation and with minimal local skin irritation.

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