Planta Med 1999; 65(7): 600-603
DOI: 10.1055/s-1999-14031
Original Paper

Georg Thieme Verlag Stuttgart · New York

Stimulation of Mouse Melanocyte Proliferation by Piper nigrum Fruit Extract and its Main Alkaloid, Piperine

Zhixiu Lin1, 2 , J. R. S. Hoult3 , Dorothy C. Bennett4 , Amala Raman1
  • 1 Department of Pharmacy, King's College London, London, U.K.
  • 2 Institute of Chinese Medicine, London, U.K.
  • 3 Pharmacology Group, King's College London, London, U.K.
  • 4 Department of Anatomy, St George's Hospital Medical School, London, U.K.
Further Information

Publication History

December 7, 1998

May 22, 1999

Publication Date:
31 December 1999 (online)


During a herbal screening programme to find potential repigmenting agents for the treatment of vitiligo, Piper nigrum L. fruit (black pepper) extract was found to possess growth-stimulatory activity towards cultured melanocytes. Its aqueous extract at 0.1 mg/ml was observed to cause nearly 300 % stimulation of the growth of a cultured mouse melanocyte line, melan-a, in 8 days (p < 0.01). Piperine (1-piperoylpiperidine), the main alkaloid from Piper nigrum fruit, also significantly stimulated melan-a cell growth. Both Piper nigrum extract and piperine induced morphological alterations in melan-a cells, with more and longer dendrites observed. The augmentation of growth by piperine was effectively inhibited by RO-31-8220, a selective protein kinase C (PKC) inhibitor, suggesting that PKC signalling is involved in its activity. This is the first full report on such an activity of black pepper and piperine.