Ann Dermatol.  2003 Jun;15(2):45-51. 10.5021/ad.2003.15.2.45.

Melanogenesis: Experimental Models

Abstract

Melanogenesis, or synthesis of melanin has been a focus of intense investigation by pigment cell biologists during the past few decades. Melanogenesis provides pigment in skin, thus serving as a unique, if not only, physiological defense against sun-induced injuries, including photocarcinogenesis. Moreover, skin color plays a major role in visual esthetics of an individual. Therefore, unwanted hyper- or hypo-pigmentation, especially on facial skin, could cause significant psychological stress. Epidermal melanocytes, derived from neural crest cells, are mainly responsible for melanin in skin. In human skin, nearly all normal pigmentation is due to melanin and with the exception of hemoglobin, it is one of the only endogenously synthesized pigments in man. Melanin has numerous functions in mammals, including increasing the optical efficiency of the eye, producing color patterns in various organs, including hair or skin, serving as camouflage, heat exchange, sexual recognition and protection from sunlight. The incidences of malignant melanoma have been increasing dramatically in western countries, at least by a factor of 15 over the past 60 years, and this has caused an intense interest in understanding melanogenesis. More than 40,000 new cases of malignant melanoma have been diagnosed in 1997, and it is one of the most common cancers in young adults. The research in the area of melanogenesis has exploded during the last ten years because model systems to study molecular mechanisms regulating melanogenesis have become available. This review examines currently available in vitro and in vivo model systems to study melanogenesis.

Keyword

Pigmentation; Melanocytes; Melanoma cells; Model systems

MeSH Terms

Esthetics
Hair
Hot Temperature
Humans
Incidence
Mammals
Melanins
Melanocytes
Melanoma
Neural Crest
Pigmentation
Skin
Stress, Psychological
Young Adult
Melanins
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