Cinnamic acid is a wildly distributed phenylpropanoid component naturally occurring in plants, and is mainly found in Cinnamomum cassia BLUME and Panax ginseng. Cinnamic acid was recently reported to exert a tyrosinase inhibitory effect. However, research on melanocytes and animal bodies was not reported until now. In this study, we examined the effects of cinnamic acid on melanin biosynthesis within the melanocytes and brown guinea pigs. Melan-a cells were used to examine the effects of cinnamic acid in the melanocytes. Treatment with 100 ppm of cinnamic acid resulted in a significant reduction of melanin production in the melan-a cells at 29.0%. This compound also exhibited a potent inhibitory effect on tyrosinase activity and reduced tyrosinase expression in the melan-a cells. Moreover, cinnamic acid exhibited depigmenting activity on the UV-B-induced hyperpigmentation of brown guinea pig skin. Our results suggest that cinnamic acid might act as a skin whitening agent via inhibition of tyrosinase activity and expression within melanocytes.
2008 The Pharmaceutical Society of Japan