• melanin;
  • Kaempferia galanga;
  • ethyl p-methoxycinnamate;
  • skin whitening

We isolated crystals from the chloroform fraction of an ethanol extract of Kaempferia galanga and identified it as ethyl p-methoxycinnamate through nuclear magnetic resonance analysis. In the present study, we found that ethyl p-methoxycinnamate significantly decreased melanin synthesis in B16F10 murine melanoma cells stimulated with α-melanocyte stimulating hormone (α-MSH). In a cell-free system, however, ethyl p-methoxycinnamate did not directly inhibit tyrosinase, the rate-limiting enzyme of melanogenesis. Instead, it inhibited tyrosinase activity in B16F10 cells in a dose-dependent manner. Furthermore, Western blot analysis showed that ethyl p-methoxycinnamate decreased microphthalmia-associated transcription factor and tyrosinase levels in α-MSH-stimulated B16F10 cells. These results indicate that the pigment-inhibitory effect of ethyl p-methoxycinnamate results from downregulation of tyrosinase. Ethyl p-methoxycinnamate isolated from K. galanga could be developed as a skin whitening agent to treat hyperpigmentary disorders. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.