Melanocyte mitogens induce both melanocyte chemokinesis and chemotaxis

T. Horikawa, D. A. Norris, J. J. Yohn, T. Zekman, J. B. Travers, J. G. Morelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

90 Scopus citations


It is believed that during repigmentation of vitiligo, inactive melanocytes in the outer root sheath of the hair follicle become activated, proliferate, and migrate into the depigmented skin. However, the mechanisms controlling melanocyte migration remain to be elucidated. In this study, we investigated the effects of well-described melanocyte growth factors on melanocyte migration. Using time-lapse photography, we demonstrated that melanocyte chemokinetic movement was induced by basic fibroblast growth factor, stem cell factor, and endothelin-1, with the greatest effect noted using 100 nM endothelin-1. Similar results were reported previously with leukotriene C4. When surrounded by these stimuli, melanocytes moved in a random, nonlinear fashion and showed no desensitization at the concentrations studied. In Boyden chamber checkerboard analysis, basic fibroblast growth factor, leukotriene C4 and endothelin-1 were chemotactic. They produced directional migration and showed desensitization at higher concentrations. The greatest effect again was seen with 100 nM endothelin-1. Stem cell factor showed no effect in this assay system at the concentrations tested. The four melanocyte mitogens - leukotriene C4, endothelin-1, basic fibroblast growth factor, and stem cell factor stimulate melanocyte migration, and this migration may be either chemokinetic (activated random movement) or chemotactic (requiring a gradient, directional, and slowing desensitization), depending on the conditions used. We believe that these factors may be effective in stimulating vitiligo repigmentation by inducing proliferation and migration of hair-follicle outer-root-sheath melanocytes into the depigmented epidermis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)256-259
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Investigative Dermatology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • Growth factors
  • Melanocyte movement
  • Repigmentation
  • Vitiligo

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Dermatology
  • Cell Biology

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