Anti-melanogenic mechanism of tetrahydrocurcumin and enhancing its topical delivery efficacy using a lecithin-based nanoemulsion

Xudong Tang, Qiaoru Dong, Jun Li, Fang Li, Bozena B. Michniak-Kohn, Denggao Zhao, Chi Tang Ho, Qingrong Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Tetrahydrocurcumin (THC) has been well known for its superior antioxidant properties. Therefore, it is speculated that it might be effective to relieve oxidative stress-induced diseases, such as skin hyperpigmentation. In this work, an in vitro B16F10 melanoma cell model was used to study the impact of THC on the melanogenic process under stressed conditions. It was demonstrated that THC could effectively inhibit the α-MSH (melanocyte-stimulating hormone) induced melanin production in B16F10 melanoma cells and the expressions of three key enzymes involved with the biosynthetic process of melanin, tyrosinase (TYR), tyrosinase-related protein 1 (TRP-1), and tyrosinase-related protein 2 (TRP-2), were all significantly reduced. In addition, an in vitro human keratinocyte cell model was used to investigate the potential protective role of THC on H2O2-induced cytotoxicity. It was found that THC could prevent H2O2-induced oxidative stress based on the results of both the cell viability study and the intracellular ROS (reactive oxygen species) study assessed by the flow cytometry. Last, THC was formulated into a lecithin based nanoemulsion, and an in vitro Franz diffusion cell study using Strat-M® membrane concluded that the nanoemulsion could significantly enhance the membrane permeation compared to the unformatted THC suspension. This research demonstrated the anti-melanogenic benefits of THC on the melanoma and keratinocyte cell models and the topical delivery efficacy could be significantly enhanced using a lecithin based nanoemulsion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1185
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pharmaceutical Science


  • Anti-melanogenesis
  • B16F10
  • HaCaT
  • Nanoemulsion
  • Tetrahydrocurcumin
  • Topical delivery


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