Tyrosinase protects human melanocytes from ROS-generating compounds

Marzia Perluigi, Federico De Marco, Cesira Foppoli, Raffaella Coccia, Carla Blarzino, Maria Luisa Marcante, Chiara Cini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The effects of two tetrahydroisoquinolines (TIQs), tetrahydropapaveroline (THP) and salsolinol (SAL), on human primary melanocytes were studied. These compounds are naturally occurring alkaloids deriving from the condensation of dopamine with aldehydes. The effects on the viability were studied by treating the cells with variable concentration of THP or SAL; both TIQs were well tolerated up to roughly 30μM. At higher concentrations, THP became overtly toxic while SAL showed no cytotoxic effect up to 100μM. TIQs treatment determined an impairment of intracellular activity of antioxidant enzymes, like SOD, DT-diaphorase, and glutathione peroxidase. A decrease of α-ketoglutarate dehydrogenase activity was also evidenced following TIQs treatment; a very strong diminution was found in THP-treated cells, whose viability was highly decreased. Both TIQs increased tyrosinase-specific mRNA transcription followed, in the case of SAL, by an activation of tyrosinase. In the presence of tyrosinase inhibitors TIQs treatment resulted in a sharp cytotoxic effect even at concentrations normally well tolerated. Taken together these data suggest that tyrosinase represents an outstanding protective mechanism against ROS-generating compounds, once primary detoxifying mechanisms are impaired or not available.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)250-256
Number of pages7
JournalBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 30 2003


  • Melanocyte
  • Reactive oxygen species
  • Salsolinol
  • Tetrahydroisoquinoline
  • Tetrahydropapaveroline
  • Tyrosinase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Biophysics
  • Molecular Biology


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