A pomegranate extract (PE) from the rind containing 90% ellagic acid was tested for its skin-whitening effect. PE showed inhibitory activity against mushroom tyrosinase in vitro, and the inhibition by the extract was comparable to that of arbutin, which is a known whitening agent. PE, when administered orally, also inhibited UV-induced skin pigmentation on the back of brownish guinea pigs. The intensity of the skin-whitening effect was similar between guinea pigs fed with PE and those fed with L-ascorbic acid. PE reduced the number of DOPA-positive melanocytes in the epidermis of UV-irradiated guinea pigs, but L-ascorbic acid did not. These results suggest that the skin-whitening effect of PE was probably due to inhibition of the proliferation of melanocytes and melanin synthesis by tyrosinase in melanocytes. PE, when taken orally, may be used as an effective whitening agent for the skin.
2005 by Japan Society for Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Agrochemistry