The rhizoma of Ligusticum sinense, a Chinese medicinal plant, has long been used as a cosmetic for the whitening and hydrating of the skin in ancient China. In order to investigate the antimelanogenic components of the rhizoma of L. sinense, we performed an antimelanogenesis assay-guided purification using semi-preparative HPLC accompanied with spectroscopic analysis to determine the active components. Based on the bioassay-guided method, 24 compounds were isolated and identified from the ethyl acetate layer of methanolic extracts of L. sinense, and among these, 5-[3-(4-hydroxy-3-methoxyphenyl)allyl]ferulic acid (1) and cis-4-pentylcyclohex-3-ene-1,2-diol (2) were new compounds. All the pure isolates were subjected to antimelanogenesis assay using murine melanoma B16-F10 cells. Compound 1 and (3S,3aR)-neocnidilide (8) exhibited antimelanogenesis activities with IC50 values of 78.9 and 31.1 µM, respectively, without obvious cytotoxicity. Further investigation showed that compound 8 demonstrated significant anti-pigmentation activity on zebrafish embryos (10-20 µM) compared to arbutin (20 µM), and without any cytotoxicity against normal human epidermal keratinocytes. These findings suggest that (3S,3aR)-neocnidilide (8) is a potent antimelanogenic and non-cytotoxic natural compound and may be developed potentially as a skin-whitening agent for cosmetic uses.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3994
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2018


  • Antimelanogenesis
  • B16-F10 melanoma cell
  • Ligusticum sinense
  • Pigmentation
  • Rhizoma
  • Zebrafish

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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