Biochimica et biophysica acta

Inhibitory effect of ephedrannins A and B from roots of Ephedra sinica STAPF on melanogenesis.

PMID 25857772


Melanogenesis, a process producing the pigment melanin in human skin, eyes and hair, is a major physiological response against various environmental stresses, in particular exposure to ultraviolet radiation, and its pathway is regulated by a key enzyme, tyrosinase. In this study, we evaluated the effects of ephedrannins A and B, which are polyphenols from the roots of Ephedra sinica, commonly used in herbalism in oriental countries, on mushroom tyrosinase and melanogenesis in B16F10 melanoma cells. Their effects on mushroom tyrosinase were determined via kinetic studies using a spectrophotometric analysis and those on melanin and tyrosinase production in melanoma cells treated with α-MSH (melanin stimulating hormone) were examined using PCR and ELISA. Both ephedrannins A and B exhibited concentration-dependent inhibitory effects on L-tyrosine oxidation by mushroom tyrosinase, and the inhibition mechanism was competitive and reversible with L-tyrosine as the substrate. In addition, melanin production in melanoma cells was also suppressed in a concentration-dependent manner by ephedrannins A and B without significant effects on cell proliferation at the concentrations tested. Both compounds showed inhibitory effects on melanin production by suppressing the transcription of tyrosinase in the cells. Both compounds exhibited significant inhibitory effects, but the inhibition by ephedrannin B was much more effective than that by ephedrannin A. Both ephedrannins A and B may be good candidates for a whitening agent for skin. This is the first report that describes effective inhibition of melanin production by ephedrannins A and B isolated from Ephedra roots.