The inhibitory effects of methanol extracts of heartwood of 23 Papua New Guinean wood species on tyrosinase activity were examined. The extract of Artocarpus incisus showed the strongest tyrosinase inhibitory activity which was equivalent to kojic acid. The extract apparently inhibited melanin biosynthesis of both cultured B16 melanoma cells without any cytotoxicity and in the back of a brown guinea pig without skin irritation. Thus, the potentiality of the extracts of heartwood of R. incisus both as material of a useful skin whitening agent and as a remedy for disturbances in pigmentation is evident. Tyrosinase inhibitory activity-guided fractionation led to the isolation of seven active compounds including a new compound which has been characterized as 6-(3'-methyl-1'-butenyl)-5,7,2',4'-tetrahydroxyflavone, named isoartocarpesin. Other active compounds were (+)-dihydromorin, chlorophorin, (+)-norartocarpanone, 4-prenyloxyresveratrol, artocarbene, and artocarpesin. These compounds are probably responsible for the melanin biosynthesis inhibitory effects.
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