Korean J Dermatol.  1998 Apr;36(2):280-285.

The Effect of alpha-MSH on the Morphologic Changes, Survival, and Melanization of Cultured Human Melanocytes


BACKGROUND: The effects of melanocyte stimulating hormone(MSH) on the integument of many species, including mammals, are well known. The significance of MSH as a physiological regulator of cutaneous pigmentation in humans is still controversial. Although the administration of MSH results in skin darkening, previous reports suggest that cultured human melanocytes are relatively unresponsive to this peptide. This may be related to the conditions under which the melanocytes were cultured.
The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of alpha-MSH on the morphological changes, survival, and melanization of cultured human melanocytes in a basal medium without any mitogen. METHOD: We examined the morphological changes, number and melanin contents of cultured human melanocytes in control(absence of alpha-MSH) and experimental groups(presence of 10(-8) M, 10(-7) M, and 10(-6) M alpha-MSH).
1. There were no significant morphological changes of cells between the control and experimental groups after 24, 48, and 72 hours' culture. The number and length of melanocyte dendrites showed no significant difference between the groups after 24, 48, and 72 hours' culture. 2. The number of melanocytes in the experimental groups(presence of 10(-7) M, and 10(-6) M alpha-MSH) were significantly higher than the number of melanocytes in control group after 72 hours culture(p<0.05). This effect of alpha-MSH was dose-related. 3. The melanin contents slightly increased in the experimental groups. The significant difference between the groups was showed in the presence of 10(-8) M alpha-MSH.
alpha-MSH has no effect on the morphology, but increases the survival of cultured human melanocytes and has a melanogenic effect.

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