Safe and effective ingredients capable of removing undesired hyperpigmentation from facial skin are urgently needed for both pharmaceutical and cosmetic purposes. Deoxyarbutin (4-[(tetrahydro-2H-pyran-2-yl) oxy] phenol, D-Arb) is a glucoside derivative of hydroquinone. Here, we investigated the toxicity and efficacy of D-Arb at the sub-cellular level (directly on melanosomes) and skin pigmentation using in vivo and in vitro models to compare with its parent compound hydroquinone (1,4-benzenediol, HQ). At first, we examined the ultrastructural changes of melanosomes in hyperpigmented guinea pig skin induced by 308-nm monochromatic excimer lightand/or treated with HQ and D-Arb using transmission electron microscopy. The results showed that prominent changes in the melanosomal membrane, such as bulb-like structure and even complete rupture of the outer membranes, were found in the skin after topical application of 5% HQ for 10 days. These changes were barely observed in the skin treated with D-Arb. To further clarify whether membrane toxicity of HQ was a direct result of the compound treatment, we also examinedultrastructural changes of individual melanosomes purified from MNT1 human melanoma cells. Similar observations were obtained from the naked melanosome model in vitro. Finally, we determined the effects of melanosomal fractions exposed to HQ or D-Arb on hydroxyl radical generation in the Fenton reaction utilizing an electron spin resonance assay. D-Arb-treated melanosomesexhibit a moderate hydroxyl radical-scavenging activity, whereas HQ-treated melanosomessignificantly generate more hydroxyl free radicals. This study suggests that D-Arb possesses a potent ability in skin lightening and antioxidation with less melanosome cytotoxicity.
Miao, F., Shi, Y., Fan, Z. F., Jiang, S., Xu, S. Z., & Lei, T. C. (2016). Deoxyarbutin possesses a potent skin-lightening capacity with no discernible cytotoxicity against melanosomes. PLoS ONE, 11(10). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0165338