The effects of 120 methanol extracts prepared from bark and heartwood of 69 types of Japanese wood on the melanin production of B16 melanoma cells were examined. The melanin content of B16 melanoma cells was determined spectrophotometrically at 405nm. The extracts were also examined for their effects on cell viability. We found that the methanol extracts of Fagus crenata (buna, wood, 100μg/ml), Sapium sebiferum (Nankinhaze, wood, bark, 10μg/ml), and Zelkova serrata (keyaki, wood, 10μg/ml) greatly inhibited the melanin production of B16 melanoma cells without significant cytotoxicity. However, these extracts did not inhibit tyrosinase activity at the concentration of 100μg/ml. These findings indicate that the depigmenting mechanism of these extracts involves the suppression of some pigmenting signals in stimulating melanogenesis rather than the inhibition of tyrosinase activity.
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