The use of ultraviolet light to induce melanogenesis in the epidermis of the rhesus monkey: An ultrastructural and biochemical study

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The general body epidermis of the rhesus monkey (Macaca mulatta) contains no discernible melanocytes, but after repeated ultraviolet irradiation DOPA positive melanocytes appear and increase numerically up to 30 exposures. With continued irradiation, however, the number again declines. Experiments to determine how melanogenic activity, assayed by the incorporation of labeled DOPA or tyrosine, is related to DOPA positivity indicated that biochemical activity corresponded to the histochemical pattern. Ultrastructural studies demonstrated that after the exposure to ultraviolet light, a pool of indeterminate cells in the skin of rhesus monkeys developed into melanocytes. The melanosomes formed by these cells, however, differed from the eumelanin melanosomes described in other species; they had no internal filamentous matrix with periodicity but appeared similar to pheomelanin melanosomes. Long term ultraviolet light irradiation may damage keratinocytes and render them incapable of phagocytizing melanosomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)637-646
Number of pages10
JournalAnatomical Record
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1976


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Anatomy

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