Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a treatment option for skin cancer and premalignant skin diseases and exhibits rejuvenation effects, including reducing fine wrinkles and whitening, on aged skin. In this study, we investigated the mechanism underlying the whitening effects of PDT on melanocytes (MCs) in vitro and in vivo. Exposure of MCs to PDT in vitro reduced their melanin content and tyrosinase activity without, however, affecting cell survival. Interestingly, melanogenesis was also inhibited by exposing MCs to conditioned media of PDT-treated keratinocytes or dermal fibroblasts. This paracrine effect was likely due to a decreased release of melanocyte-stimulating cytokines such as Kit ligand and hepatocyte growth factor from these cells. Furthermore, we observed that PDT reduced mottled hyperpigmentation of photoaged patient skin in vivo, highlighting the clinical importance of skin whitening by PDT.
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