Flavonoids, apigenin and icariin exert potent melanogenic activities in murine B16 melanoma cells

Yan Ye, Gui Xin Chou, Hui Wang, Jian Hong Chu, Zhiling YU*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

56 Citations (Scopus)


We aimed to screen for melanogenic agents among 35 botanical compounds. The compounds were first assessed with regard to their effects on tyrosinase activity in B16 cells. At 100μM, 13 compounds showed tyrosinase activity-enhancing effects, ranging from 2.6 to 372.8% activation. Five of them showed more than 50% enhancement and were further tested for their EC50 values. Compared with 8-Methoxypsoralen, an effective tyrosinase activator with an EC50 of 7.26μM, 3 compounds exhibited smaller EC50 values (apigenin, 0.45μM; hyperosid, 0.92μM; and icariin, 1.01μM for enhancing tyrosinase activity). The 3 compounds significantly increased cellular melanin contents without affecting cell proliferation. Compared with 8-Methoxypsoralen (EC50, 35.94μM for stimulating pigmentation), apigenin (EC50, 17.46μM) and icariin (EC50, 32.77μM) showed better melanogenic activity, while hyperosid (EC50, 70.4μM) was less potent. Western blot analysis demonstrated that the 3 compounds could differentially increase the expression levels of tyrosinase, and tyrosinase-related proteins 1 and 2. Together these data suggest that apigenin and icariin exert potent melanogenic activities through, at least in part, upregulating the protein expression levels of melanogenic enzymes in B16 cells. Thus, further investigations are merited to ascertain their potential application in treating hypopigmentation disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-35
Number of pages4
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2010

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery
  • Complementary and alternative medicine

User-Defined Keywords

  • Apigenin
  • B16 cells
  • Icariin
  • Melanogenesis
  • Tyrosinase


Dive into the research topics of 'Flavonoids, apigenin and icariin exert potent melanogenic activities in murine B16 melanoma cells'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this