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Letters to Nature
Nature 181, 187 - 188 (18 January 1958); doi:10.1038/181187b0

Effect of Testosterone and Orchidectomy on the Activity of the Melanocytes in the Skin


Department of Anatomy, King's College, London, W.C.2. Sept. 30.

IT is well known that there is an increased pigmentation of the skin in certain areas of the body in pregnancy. It has also been established that the occurrence of a malignant change in benign pigmented tumours or moles is rare before puberty in both sexes. Furthermore it is accepted that the growth of malignant melanomas and the formation of metastases is accelerated during pregnancy1. All these facts suggest that the activity of the melanocyte is under hormonal influence. Edwards, Hamilton, Duntley and Hubert2 reported that the human male castrate has a reduced amount of melanin in the skin. Treatment of these men with testosterone usually increased the melanin content in all areas, although the response was of small degree. Kupperman3, working on the male golden hamster, showed that testosterone increases the pigmentation of the skin, whereas castration causes a reduction in pigmentation. Wheeler et al. 4 found by macroscopical and microscopical observations that topical application of testosterone to the nipples and areolæ of immature castrated male guinea pigs produced no increased pigmentation. The present investigation was designed to investigate histochemically the effect of testosterone and orchidectomy on the activity of the melanocyte.

  1. Cade, S. , Brit. Med. J., ii, 119 (1957).
  2. Edwards, E. A. , Hamilton, J. B. , Duntley, S. Q. , and Hubert, G. , Endocrinol., 28, 119 (1941). | ChemPort |
  3. Kupperman, H. S. , Anat. Rec., 88, 442 (1944).
  4. Wheeler, C. E. , Cawley, E. P. , and Curtis, A. C. , J. Invest. Dermat., 20, 385 (1953). | ISI | ChemPort |

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