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Derm News: 2006(12)

Retinoid therapy of pigmentary disorders

Dermatologic Therapy
Jean-Paul Ortonne


Topical retinoids such as all-trans-retinoic acid (RA), 13-cis-retinoic acid (isotretinoin), retinol, retinaldehyde, tazarotene, and adapalene have been shown to improve dyspigmentation of photodamaged skin including mottling and actinic lentigines. RA monotherapy has also been demonstrated to improve melasma and postinflammatory hypermelanosis. Furthermore, RA in combination with hydroquinone or 4-hydroxyanisole, or azelaic acid increases the potency of depigmenting agents for the treatment of melasma, actinic lentigines, and postinflammatory hypermelanosis. The basic mechanisms underlying these effects are not completely identified. Topical retinoids stimulate the cell turn-over of epidermal keratinocytes and promote a decrease in melanosome transfer and a rapid loss of melanins via epidermopoiesis. Topical retinoids are also involved in the control of cell differentiation. Retinoid-induced changes in the stratum corneum and the permeability barrier may also facilitate the penetration of depigmenting agents in the epidermis and increase their bioavailability, leading to increased depigmentation. In addition, several in vitro studies demonstrate that cis and trans-retinoic acid inhibit UV-B stimulated melanogenesis in term of tyrosinase activity and melanin synthesis. It is likely that topical retinoids modulate epidermal melanin count via a direct action on melanocytes and epidermal keratinocytes.

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The Derm News service provided by the Editorial Consultants of Skin Therapy Letter© and its founding editor Dr. Stuart Maddin.