Int J Med Sci 2021; 18(14):3299-3308. doi:10.7150/ijms.62530

Research Paper

Inhibition of melanogenesis by Aster yomena callus pellet extract in melanoma cells and patients with skin pigmentation

Jae-In Lee1, Jeong Hun Seo2, Eun-Sil Ko2, Sang-Min Cho2, Jea-Ran Kang2, Jong-Hoon Jeong2, Yu Jeong Jeong1, Cha Young Kim1, Jeong-Dan Cha2, Woo Sik Kim1,*✉, Young-Bae Ryu1,*✉

1. Functional Biomaterial Research Center, Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology, Jeongeup-si, Jeollabuk-do 56212, Republic of Korea
2. Department of Bio-material and product development and R&D center, General Bio, Namwon-si, Jeollabuk-do 55793, Republic of Korea
* The authors contributed equally to this work.

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Lee JI, Seo JH, Ko ES, Cho SM, Kang JR, Jeong JH, Jeong YJ, Kim CY, Cha JD, Kim WS, Ryu YB. Inhibition of melanogenesis by Aster yomena callus pellet extract in melanoma cells and patients with skin pigmentation. Int J Med Sci 2021; 18(14):3299-3308. doi:10.7150/ijms.62530. Available from

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Graphic abstract

Plant tissue culture holds immense potential for the production of secondary metabolites with various physiological functions. We recently established a plant tissue culture system capable of producing secondary metabolites from Aster yomena. This study aimed to uncover the mechanisms underlying the potential therapeutic effects of Aster yomena callus pellet extract (AYC-P-E) on photoaging-induced skin pigmentation. Excessive melanogenesis was induced in B16F10 melanoma cells using α-melanocyte stimulating hormone (α-MSH). The effects of AYC-P-E treatment on melanin biosynthesis inducers and melanin synthesis inhibition were assessed. Based on the results, a clinical study was conducted in subjects with skin pigmentation. AYC-P-E inhibited melanogenesis in α-MSH-treated B16F10 cells, accompanied by decreased mRNA and protein expression of melanin biosynthesis inducers, including cyclic AMP response element-binding protein (CREB), tyrosinase, microphthalmia-associated transcription factor (MITF), tyrosinase related protein-1 (TRP-1), and TRP-2. This anti-melanogenic effect was mediated by mitogen-activated protein kinase (MEK)/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) and protein kinase B (AKT) phosphorylation. Treatment of subjects with skin pigmentation with AYC-P-E-containing cream formulations resulted in 3.33%, 7.06%, and 8.68% improvement in the melanin levels at 2, 4, and 8 weeks, respectively. Our findings suggest that AYC-P-E inhibits excessive melanogenesis by activating MEK/ERK and AKT signaling, potentiating its cosmetic applications in hyperpigmentation treatment.

Keywords: Aster yomena, callus, extract, metabolite, melanogenesis, skin pigmentation