Pleiotrophin (PTN) is a secreted heparin-binding protein that is involved in various biological functions of cell growth and differentiation. Little is known about the effects of PTN on the melanocyte function and skin pigmentation. In this study, we investigated whether PTN would affect melanogenesis. PTN was expressed in melanocytes and fibroblasts of human skin. Transfection studies revealed that PTN decreased melanogenesis, probably through MITF degradation via Erk1/2 activation in melanocytes. The inhibitory action of PTN in pigmentation was further confirmed in ex vivo cultured skin and in the melanocytes cocultured with fibroblasts. These findings suggest that PTN is a crucial factor for the regulation of melanogenesis in the skin.
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