Inhibitory Effect of p-Hydroxybenzyl Alcohol on Tyrosinase Activity and Melanogenesis

Author(s): Liu SH, Pan IH, Chu IM


Tyrosinase is a key enzyme catalyzing the rate-limiting step for the biosynthesis pathway of melanin pigment, which is the most important determinant of the color of skin. Inhibiting tyrosinase and repressing melanocyte metabolism can reduce melanin production. Among the possible melanin reducing compounds, tyrosinase inhibitors are most promising for treating pigmentation and are used as skin-whitening agents in the cosmetic industry. In our investigation, some new tyrosinase inhibitors from plants have been identified to have high tyrosinase inhibitory activity. Specifically, p-hydroxybenzyl alcohol (4HBA) was found to inhibit the monophenolase activity of mushroom tyrosinase. When 4HBA binds with the enzyme, conformation of the enzyme is altered and its activity decreases. The inhibitory effect of 4HBA on melanogenesis has been studied using cultured mouse melanoma cells. Melanin synthesis in cell culture with 4HBA at 1.0 mM was decreased to 45% of control and below 1.0 mM there was no effect on cell growth. The inhibitory effects of 4HBA on melanogenesis are due to the direct inhibition of melanosomal tyrosinase activity, rather than to the suppression of tyrosinase gene. These results showed that 4HBA is a promising and safe agent for skin whitening.

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