Melanin is a pigment, which is widely distributed in organisms. In humans, melanin pigments determine eye, hair, and skin color and protect the skin from damage by ultraviolet radiation; however, immoderate distribution of melanin in the skin causes discoloration.

In the present study, we screened methanolic extracts from leaves of 47 plant species, most of which are native to East Asia, for the inhibitory activity against melanogenesis.


B16 melanoma 4A5 cells were used in all assays conducted in this study. Melanin content assay was performed using methanolic extracts from leaves of 47 plant species. Cytotoxicity of the extract from leaves of Sorbaria sorbifolia var. stellipila Max. (SME) was evaluated by WST-8 assay. Tyrosinase activity was determined using the lysate of α-MSH-stimulated B16 melanoma 4A5 cells and L-dopa as a colorimetric substrate. Melanogenic gene expression was determined by quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR).


SME showed the highest inhibitory activity among tested samples without cytotoxicity. SME exhibited the inhibition potency for the enzymatic activity of tyrosinase. In addition, qRT-PCR result displayed that SME downregulates the expression of melanogenic genes including tyrosinase, TRP-1, TRP-2, and the transcription factor MITF.


Overall results revealed that the extract from leaves of S. sorbifolia var. stellipila Max. has a potential to be used as a skin whitening agent.

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