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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2013, Article ID 340107, 9 pages
Research Article

Activation of MITF by Argan Oil Leads to the Inhibition of the Tyrosinase and Dopachrome Tautomerase Expressions in B16 Murine Melanoma Cells

1Alliance for Research on North Africa (ARENA), University of Tsukuba, Tennodai 1-1-1, Tsukuba City, Ibaraki 305-8587, Japan
2Graduate School of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Tennodai 1-1-1, Tsukuba City, Ibaraki 305-8587, Japan
3Faculty of Sciences Semlalia, Cadi Ayyad University, Avenue Prince Moulay Abdellah, BP 2390, 40000 Marrakesh, Morocco

Received 19 April 2013; Revised 6 June 2013; Accepted 6 June 2013

Academic Editor: Mohamad Fawzi Mahomoodally

Copyright © 2013 Myra O. Villareal et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Argan (Argania spinosa L.) oil has been used for centuries in Morocco as cosmetic oil to maintain a fair complexion and to cure skin pimples and chicken pox pustules scars. Although it is popular, the scientific basis for its effect on the skin has not yet been established. Here, the melanogenesis regulatory effect of argan oil was evaluated using B16 murine melanoma cells. Results of melanin assay using B16 cells treated with different concentrations of argan oil showed a dose-dependent decrease in melanin content. Western blot results showed that the expression levels of tyrosinase (TYR), tyrosinase-related protein 1 (TRP1), and dopachrome tautomerase (DCT) proteins were decreased. In addition, there was an increase in the activation of MITF and ERK1/2. Real-time PCR results revealed a downregulation of Tyr, Trp1, Dct, and Mitf mRNA expressions. Argan oil treatment causes MITF phosphorylation which subsequently inhibited the transcription of melanogenic enzymes, TYR and DCT. The inhibitory effect of argan oil on melanin biosynthesis may be attributed to tocopherols as well as the synergistic effect of its components. The results of this study provide the scientific basis for the traditionally established benefits of argan oil and present its therapeutic potential against hyperpigmentation disorders.