Our previous study showed that a methanol extract from Trifolium pratense exerted potent inhibitory activity on melanogenesis in mouse B16 melanoma cells. In the present study, the active compound in this Chinese herb extract was isolated and identified as biochanin A by mass spectrum, (1)H-NMR, and (13)C-NMR analysis. The inhibitory effects of biochanin A on melanogenesis were investigated in vitro in cultured melanoma cells and in vivo in zebrafish and mice. Biochanin A dose-dependently inhibited both melanogenesis and cellular tyrosinase activity in B16 cells and in zebrafish embryos. Application of a cream containing 2% biochanin A twice daily to the skin of mice also increased the skin-whitening index value after 1 week of treatment, and the increase continued for another 2 weeks. Biochanin A was confirmed as a good candidate for use as a skin-whitening agent in the treatment of skin hyperpigmentation disorders.
Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry 75(5), pp. 914-918