Betaine reduces cellular melanin content via suppression of microphthalmia-associated transcription factor in B16-F1 murine melanocytes

Bo Ram Cho, Hee jin Jun, Trung Thanh Thach, Chunyan Wu, Sung Joon Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Long-term topical skin care by traditional anti-melanogenic agents can raise several safety concerns. An understanding of the molecular mechanisms of active compounds on melanogenesis is, therefore, necessary to address pigmentation issues. Here we revealed that stimulation with 1 mM betaine, an abundant component in rice bran, significantly reduced 21% of intracellular melanin content by suppressing tyrosinase activity and microphthalmia-associated transcription factor (MITF) expression in B16-F1 murine melanocytes. The expression of MITF was suppressed at both mRNA and protein levels by 43 and 44%, respectively. Subsequently, the betaine-stimulated melanocytes showed inhibition of PKA-CREB signaling axis but activation of extracellular-signal-regulated kinase and AKT-GSK3β signaling pathways. This inhibition and activation led to downregulation of MITF expression at both the transcriptional and post-translational levels to suppress melanin synthesis. These findings collectively suggested that betaine is a potential anti-melanogenic compound for functional foods and cosmetics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1391-1397
Number of pages7
JournalFood Science and Biotechnology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Oct 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) grant funded by the Korea government (MSIP) (No. NRF-2016R1A2A2A05005483), and a grant from Cooperative Research Program for Agriculture Science and Technology Development, Rural Development Administration, Republic of Korea (Project No. PJ011253042017).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, The Korean Society of Food Science and Technology and Springer Science+Business Media B.V.


  • Betaine
  • MITF
  • Melanocyte
  • Melanogenesis
  • Tyrosinase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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