Int J Med Sci 2017; 14(11):1049-1053. doi:10.7150/ijms.20335 This issue

Research Paper

The Extracts of Astragalus membranaceus Inhibit Melanogenesis through the ERK Signaling Pathway

Yu-Tzu Tsao1, 2, Chun-Yu Kuo3, Yu-Diao Kuan4, Han-Chen Lin5, Li-Hsien Wu6, Che-Hsin Lee4, 7✉

1. Division of Nephrology, Department of Medicine, Taoyuan General Hospital, Taoyuan 330, Taiwan;
2. Institute of Clinical Medicine, National Yang-Ming University, Taipei 11221, Taiwan;
3. Graduate Institute of Basic Medical Science, School of Medicine, China Medical University, Taichung 404, Taiwan;
4. Department of Biological Sciences, National Sun Yat-sen University, Kaohsiung 804, Taiwan;
5. Department of Anatomy, School of Medicine, College of Medicine, Kaohsiung Medical University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan;
6. Department of Public Health, China Medical University, Taichung 404, Taiwan;
7. Department of Medical Research, China Medical University Hospital, China Medical University, Taichung 40402, Taiwan.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY-NC) license ( See for full terms and conditions.
Tsao YT, Kuo CY, Kuan YD, Lin HC, Wu LH, Lee CH. The Extracts of Astragalus membranaceus Inhibit Melanogenesis through the ERK Signaling Pathway. Int J Med Sci 2017; 14(11):1049-1053. doi:10.7150/ijms.20335. Available from

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Melanin is a normal production protecting skin from environment-causing damage. Plants produce some agents in response to their environment. These agents could be applied in cosmetic production. Some Chinese herbals have immunomodulatory activities and modulate the symptoms of several diseases. Melanogenesis represents a complex group of conditions that are thought to be mediated through a complex network of regulatory processes. Previously, some studies found that the extracts of Astragalus membranaceus (PG2) regulated immunity and supported hematopoiesis. Herein, we want to determine the molecular mechanisms by which PG2 inhibits melanogenesis in B16F10 melanoma cells. The cellular melanin contents and expression of melanogenesis-related protein, including microphthalmia associated transcription factor (MITF) and tyrosinase were significantly reduced after PG2 treatment. Moreover, PG2 increased phosphorylation of ERK, without affecting phosphorylation of p38. These results suggested that PG2 as a new target in reducing hyperpigmentation through the ERK signal pathway. PG2 has potential for cosmetic usage in the future.

Keywords: Melanin, Astragalus membranaceus, PG2, melanogenesis.