Abstract Title:

The anti-melanogenic effects of ellagic acid through induction of autophagy in melanocytes and suppression of UVA-activatedα-MSH pathways via Nrf2 activation in keratinocytes.

Abstract Source:

Biochem Pharmacol. 2021 Feb 3 ;185:114454. Epub 2021 Feb 3. PMID: 33545118

Abstract Author(s):

Hsin-Ling Yang, Chia-Pei Lin, Yugandhar Vudhya Gowrisankar, Pei-Jane Huang, Wan-Lin Chang, Sirjana Shrestha, You-Cheng Hseu

Article Affiliation:

Hsin-Ling Yang


Ellagic acid (EA) is a natural phenol antioxidant in different fruits, vegetables, and nuts. As a copper iron chelator from the tyrosinase enzyme's active site, EA was reported to inhibit melanogenesis in melanocytes. Here, we demonstrated the anti-melanogenic mechanisms of EA through autophagy induction in melanoma B16F10 cells and the role of Nrf2 and UVA (3 J/cm)-activatedα-melanocyte stimulating hormone (α-MSH) pathways in keratinocyte HaCaT cells. In vitro data showed that EA suppressed the tyrosinase activity and melanogenesis by suppressing cAMP-mediated CREB and MITF signaling mechanisms in α-MSH-stimulated B16F10 cells. ERK, JNK, and AKT pathways were involved in this EA-regulated MITF downregulation. Notably, EA induced autophagy in B16F10 cells was evidenced from increased LC3-II accumulation, p62/SQSTM1 activation, ATG4B downregulation, acidic vesicular organelle (AVO) formation, PI3K/AKT/mTOR inhibition, and Beclin-1/Bcl-2 dysregulation. Interestingly, 3-MA (an autophagy inhibitor) pretreatment or LC3 silencing (siRNA transfection) of B16F10 cells significantly reduced EA-induced anti-melanogenic activity. Besides this, in UVA-irradiated keratinocyte HaCaT cells, EA suppressed ROS production and α-MSH generation. Moreover, EA mediated the activation and nuclear translocation of Nrf2, leading to antioxidant γ-GCLC, HO-1, and NQO-1 protein expression in HaCaT cells. However, Nrf2 knockdown has significantly impaired this effect, and there was an uncontrolled ROS generation following UVA irradiation. JNK, PKC, and ROS pathways were involved in the activation of Nrf2 in HaCaT cells. In vivo experiments using the zebrafish model confirmed that EA inhibited tyrosinase activity and endogenous pigmentation. In conclusion, ellagic acid is an effective skin-whitening agent and might be used as a topical applicant.

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