Stimulation of mouse melanocyte proliferation by Piper nigrum fruit extract and its main alkaloid, piperine

Zhixiu Lin, J. R.S. Hoult, Dorothy C. Bennett, Amala Raman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


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 clays (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 melana cells, with more and longer dendrites observed. The augmentation of growth by piperine was effectively inhibited by RO-318220, 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)600-603
Number of pages4
JournalPlanta Medica
Issue number7
StatePublished - Nov 8 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Melan-a cell line
  • Piper nigrum
  • Piperaceae
  • Piperine
  • Proliferation
  • Vitiligo

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery
  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Organic Chemistry


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