siRNA-mediated knock-down of COX-2 in melanocytes suppresses melanogenesis

Ji Y. Kim, Jae Y. Shin, Miri R. Kim, Seung Kyung Hann, Sang H. Oh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) is an enzyme induced in response to multiple mitogenic and inflammatory stimuli, including UV light. UV-induced COX-2 expression induces production of prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) in keratinocytes, which mediates inflammation and cell proliferation. Until recently, studies regarding COX-2 and PGE2 in the skin have focused on keratinocytes and skin cancer and the effect of PGs produced by keratinocytes on melanocytes. However, the effects of COX-2 itself or COX-2 inhibitors on melanogenesis are not well known. Therefore, to establish the role of COX-2 in melanogenesis, we investigated the effects of knock-down of COX-2 in melanocytes on melanin production and the expression of melanogenic molecules through silencing of COX-2 expression with COX-2 short interfering RNA (siRNA). COX-2 knock-down in melanocytes decreased the expressions of tyrosinase, TRP-1, TRP-2, gp100 and MITF and also reduced tyrosinase enzyme activity. Furthermore, COX-2 siRNA-transfected melanocytes showed markedly reduced alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone (α-MSH)-induced melanin production. In addition, α-MSH-induced COX-2 expression in both scrambled siRNA-transfected and COX-2 siRNA-transfected melanocytes was greater than α-MSH-untreated cells. Our results suggest that COX-2 might be a candidate target for the development of anti-melanogenic agents and α-MSH-induced pigmentation could be closely associated with COX-2 expression. COX-2 inhibitors might therefore be of particular use in whitening cosmetics for hyperpigmentation disorders such as melasma, postinflammatory hyperpigmentation and solar lentigo.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)420-425
Number of pages6
JournalExperimental dermatology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Jun

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Dermatology


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