Open Access Open Badges Research article

Supercritical fluid extract of Lycium chinense Miller root inhibition of melanin production and its potential mechanisms of action

Huey-Chun Huang1, Wen-Ying Huang2, Tsang-Chi Tsai2, Wan-Yu Hsieh2, Wang-Ping Ko3, Kuei-Jen Chang3 and Tsong-Min Chang2*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Medical Laboratory Science and Biotechnology, China Medical University, Taichung, Taiwan

2 Department of Applied Cosmetology & Master Program of Cosmetic Sciences, HungKuang University, No. 1018, Sec. 6, Taiwan Boulevard, Shalu Dist, Taichung City 43302, Taiwan

3 O’right Plant Extract R&D Center, Taoyuan, Taiwan

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2014, 14:208  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-14-208

Published: 28 June 2014



The mode of action of Lycium chinense Miller root extract in skin care has never been explored. In the present study, Lycium chinense Miller root was extracted by the supercritical fluid CO2 extraction method.


In the present study, the components of the root extract were analyzed by HPLC. The effects of the extract on tyrosinase activity and melanin content were determined spectrophotometrically; the expression of melanogenesis-related proteins was determined by Western blotting; the possible signaling pathways involved in the root extract-mediated depigmentation were also investigated using specific inhibitors.


The results revealed that the SFE of Lycium chinense Miller root (2.37-7.11 mg/mL) effectively suppressed intracellular tyrosinase activity and decreased the melanin content in B16F10 cells. The root extract also effectively decreased intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels. Furthermore, the root extract decreased the expression of melanocortin 1 receptor (MC1R), microphthalmia-associated transcription factor (MITF), tyrosinase and tyrosinase-related protein-1 (TRP-1) and then inhibited melanogenesis in B16F10 cells. The root extract also showed antioxidant capacities and depleted cellular ROS.


Our results indicate that the SFE of Lycium chinense Miller root inhibited melanogenesis in B16F10 cells by down-regulation of both mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPK) and protein kinase A (PKA) signaling pathways or through its antioxidant properties.

Lycium chinense Miller; melanogenesis; MAPK; PKA; ROS