Targeting melanocyte and melanoma stem cells by 8-hydroxy-2-dipropylaminotetralin

Jonathan G. Bonchak, Jonathan M. Eby, Kristin A. Willenborg, David Chrobak, Steven W. Henning, Anna Krzywiec, Steven L. Johnson, I. Caroline Le Poole*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Monobenzyl ether of hydroquinone (MBEH) is cytotoxic towards melanocytes. Its treatment efficacy is limited by an inability to eradicate stem cells. By contrast, 8-hydroxy-N,N-dipropyl-2-aminotetralin (8-DPAT) affects melanocyte stem cell survival. MBEH and 8-DPAT were added to melanocytes and melanoma cells to compare cytotoxicity. Stem cell content among viable cells was determined by fluorocytometry using markers CD34, Pax3, and CD271. Immunostaining was used to identify stem cells in skin explants treated with MBEH or 8-DPAT ex vivo. Mice were exposed to MBEH or 8-DPAT and scanned for depigmentation before harvesting skin. MBEH exposure prompted a relative increase in stem cells among cultured melanocytes and melanoma cells, as treatment preferentially eliminated differentiated cells and spared the stem cells. Viability of this remaining, enriched stem cell population was however rapidly reduced by exposure to 8-DPAT within melanocyte and melanoma cell cultures. In human skin explants, the abundance of melanocyte stem cells was also visibly reduced after 8-DPAT treatment, in contrast to tissue exposed to MBEH. Meanwhile, significant depigmentation of the mouse pelage and loss of differentiated melanocytes was observed in vivo in response to topical application of MBEH, but not 8-DPAT. Prolonged application of the latter agent instead appeared to effectively reduce the abundance of melanocyte stem cells in the dermis. This furthers the idea that MBEH and 8-DPAT target complementary cell populations. Results indicate that combination treatment may demonstrate superior therapeutic activity by eliminating both differentiated and tumor initiating populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-78
Number of pages8
JournalArchives of biochemistry and biophysics
StatePublished - Dec 15 2014


  • Melanocyte
  • Melanoma
  • Pigmentation
  • Stem cells
  • Viability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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