Melanogenesis stimulation activity of aqueous ethanolic extracts obtained from several different parts of five Piper species, namely Piper longum, P. kadsura, P. methysticum, P. betle, and P. cubeba, were examined by using cultured murine B16 melanoma cells. Among them, the extract of P. methysticum rhizome (Kava) showed potent stimulatory effect on melanogenesis as well as P. nigrum leaf extract. Activity-guided fractionation of Kava extract led to the isolation of two active kavalactones, yangonin (2) and 7,8-epoxyyangonin (5), along with three inactive kavalactones, 5,6-dehydrokawain (1), (+)-kawain (3) and (+)-methysticin (4), and a glucosylsterol, daucosterin (6). 7,8-Epoxyyangonin (5) showed a significant stimulatory effect on melanogenesis in B16 melanoma cells. Yangonin (2) exhibited a weak melanogenesis stimulation activity.
2006 The Pharmaceutical Society of Japan