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Article
November 20, 1991

α-Melanocyte-Stimulating HormoneA Ubiquitous Cytokine With Pigmenting Effects

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Dermatology, University of Cincinnati (Ohio) College of Medicine.

From the Department of Dermatology, University of Cincinnati (Ohio) College of Medicine.

JAMA. 1991;266(19):2753-2754. doi:10.1001/jama.1991.03470190101039
Abstract

"Black Skin or White? Science Offers a Choice" was the premature headline for an article written in 1980.1 Even in 1991, science has not provided individuals with the ability to lighten, darken, or modify the hue of their skin. Tanning by exposure to sunlight or to artificial sources of ultraviolet radiation darkens skin but is considered dangerous because of the probable role of ultraviolet light in causing most skin cancers. In a study by Levine et al,2 reported in this week's issue of The Journal, a synthetic analogue of α-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (α-MSH) was injected into 15 subjects over 12 days. Eleven other subjects served as controls. Only the treated individuals noted significant darkening of some parts of the integument. Inexplicably, the darkening was limited almost exclusively to sun-exposed portions of the skin. The same observations that α-MSH had preferential effects on sun-exposed skin was

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