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Open Access Research article

Photoprotective and antioxidant effects of Rhubarb: inhibitory action on tyrosinase and tyrosine kinase activities and TNF-α, IL-1α and α-MSH production in human melanocytes

Jéssica PS Silveira1, Leonardo N Seito1, Samara Eberlin2, Gustavo C Dieamant2, Cecília Nogueira2, Maria CV Pereda2 and Luiz C Di Stasi1*

Author Affiliations

1 Laboratory of Phytomedicines, Department of Pharmacology, Institute of Biosciences, Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP), Botucatu, São Paulo CEP 18618-970, Brazil

2 Research and Development Department of Chemyunion Chemistry Ltd, Av Independência 1501, Sorocaba, São Paulo CEP 18087-101, Brazil

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2013, 13:49  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-13-49

Published: 27 February 2013



Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation causes various forms of acute and chronic skin damage, including immunosuppression, inflammation, premature aging and photodamage. Furthermore, it induces the generation of reactive oxygen species, produces proinflammatory cytokines and melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH) and increases tyrosinase activity. The aim of this study was to evaluate the potential photoprotective effects of Rheum rhaponticum L. rhizome extract on human UV-stimulated melanocytes.


The effects of Rheum rhaponticum rhizome extract on tyrosine kinase activity, and on interleukin-1α (IL-1α), tumour necrosis factor α (TNF-α), and α-MSH production in human epidermal melanocytes were evaluated under UV-stimulated and non-stimulated conditions. Antioxidant activity was evaluated by lipid peroxidation and 1,1-dyphenyl-2-picryl-hydrazyl (DPPH) assays, while anti-tyrosinase activity was evaluated by the mushroom tyrosinase method.


Rheum rhaponticum L. rhizome extract showed in vitro antioxidant properties against lipid peroxidation, free radical scavenging and anti-tyrosinase activities, and inhibited the production of IL-1α, TNF-α, α-MSH, and tyrosine kinase activity in melanocytes subjected to UV radiation.


These results support the inclusion of Rheum rhaponticum L. rhizome extract into cosmetic, sunscreen and skin care products for the prevention or reduction of photodamage.

Rheum rhaponticum; Skin-lightening; Photoprotection; α-MSH; UV radiation; Melanocytes