UV protection of the skin by topically-applied forskolin

Alexandra Amaro-Ortiz, Mary Boulanger, John D'Orazio

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Sun sensitivity and skin cancer risk are largely determined by skin complexion. Dark skin, which is UV-and cancer-resistant, is characterized by abundant deposition of melanin pigment in the epidermis. Melanin, which acts as a "sunblock" to physically interfere with penetration of damaging UV rays into the skin, is a pigment made by melanocytes that are positioned at the dermal-epidermal junction. Skin complexion is a polymorphic phenotype regulated by a number of genetic loci, however one of the most relevant to melanization of the skin and melanoma risk is the melanocortin 1 receptor (MC1R). Among human populations, loss-of-function of MC1R signaling due to inherited polymorphisms in the MC1R gene, are associated with a fair-skinned undermelanized, UV-sensitive and melanoma-prone phenotype. MC1R signaling, which is mediated by cAMP second messenger generation, can be pharmacologically stimulated by topical application of forskolin, a skin-permeable labdane diterpene which directly activates adenylyl cyclase. Here, we review skin physiology, focusing on the MC1R signaling pathway and pharmacologic induction of epidermal melanin and enhanced DNA repair by forskolin.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationForskolin
Subtitle of host publicationSources, Mechanisms of Action and Health Effects
Number of pages29
ISBN (Electronic)9781634639446
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 by Nova Science Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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