Potential molecular characteristics in situ in response to repetitive UVB irradiation
The signaling of stem cell factor (SCF) through its receptor Kit is known to play an important role in regulating cutaneous melanogenesis. In the course of UVB-induced pigmentation, the expression of membrane-bound SCF by epidermal keratinocytes is upregulated at an early phase and subsequently activates neighboring melanocytes via their Kit receptors. In order to identify effective skin-lightening materials, we screened botanical extracts to determine their abilities to diminish Kit expression in melanocytes. A Platycodon root extract was consequently found to have a remarkable inhibitory activity on Kit expression. When the extract was applied to three-dimensional human skin substitutes in vitro and to human skin in vivo after UVB irradiation, their pigmentation was significantly reduced, confirming the substantial contribution of the suppression of SCF/Kit signaling to preventing or inhibiting melanin synthesis. These data demonstrate that a Platycodon root extract is a promising material for a skin-lightening product to improve pigmentation-related diseases.