Correlation between melanogenic and catalase activity in in vitro human melanocytes: A synergic strategy against oxidative stress

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


UV-induced DNA damage can lead to melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer. Understanding the mechanisms employed by melanocytes to protect against UV is therefore a key issue. In melanocytes, catalase is the main enzyme responsible for degrading hydrogen peroxide and we have previously shown that that low basal levels of catalase activity are associated with the light phototype in in vitro and ex vivo models. Here we investigate the possible correlation between its activity and melanogenesis in primary cultures of human melanocytes. We show that while the total melanin concentration is directly correlated to the level of pigmentation, the more the degree of pigmentation increased, the lower the proportion of pheomelanin present. Moreover, in human melanocytes in vitro, catalase-specific mRNA, protein and enzymatic activity were all directly correlated with total cellular melanin content. We also observed that immediately after a peroxidative treatment, the increase in reactive oxygen species was inversely associated with pigmentation level. Darkly pigmented melanocytes therefore possess two protective strategies represented by melanins and catalase activity that are likely to act synergistically to counteract the deleterious effects of UV radiation. By contrast, lightly pigmented melanocytes possess lower levels of melanogenic and catalase activity and are therefore more susceptible to accumulate damage after UV exposition.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPigment Cell and Melanoma Research
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2008


  • Catalase
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Melanin
  • Melanogenesis
  • Oxidative stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology
  • Oncology
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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