Theranostics 2020; 10(24):11110-11126. doi:10.7150/thno.47413

Research Paper

Salidroside can target both P4HB-mediated inflammation and melanogenesis of the skin

Xiu-Juan Ding1,3*, Zhi-Yuan Zhang1*, Jing Jin1*, Jing-Xia Han2*, Yan Wang5, Kai Yang1, Yu-Yan Yang2,3, Hong-Qi Wang2,3, Xin-Tong Dai2,3, Cheng Yao1, Tao Sun2,3,4✉, Cai-Bin Zhu1✉, Hui-Juan Liu2,3✉

1. Cheermore Cosmetic Dermatology Laboratory, Shanghai, China.
2. Tianjin Key Laboratory of Early Druggability Evaluation of Innovative Drugs, Tianjin International Joint Academy of Biomedicine, China.
3. State Key Laboratory of Medicinal Chemical Biology and College of Pharmacy, Nankai University, Tianjin, China.
4. Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, General Hospital, Tianjin Medical University, Tianjin Institute of Digestive Disease, Tianjin, China.
5. Quality Management Department, Shijiazhuang Food and Drug Inspection Center, Hebei, China.
*These authors have contributed equally to this work.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( See for full terms and conditions.
Ding XJ, Zhang ZY, Jin J, Han JX, Wang Y, Yang K, Yang YY, Wang HQ, Dai XT, Yao C, Sun T, Zhu CB, Liu HJ. Salidroside can target both P4HB-mediated inflammation and melanogenesis of the skin. Theranostics 2020; 10(24):11110-11126. doi:10.7150/thno.47413. Available from

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Rationale: Many external factors can induce the melanogenesis and inflammation of the skin. Salidroside (SAL) is the main active ingredient of Rhodiola, which is a perennial grass plant of the Family Crassulaceae. This study evaluated the effect and molecular mechanism of SAL on skin inflammation and melanin production. It then explored the molecular mechanism of melanin production under ultraviolet (UV) and inflammatory stimulation.

Methods: VISIA skin analysis imaging system and DermaLab instruments were used to detect the melanin reduction and skin brightness improvement rate of the volunteers. UV-treated Kunming mice were used to detect the effect of SAL on skin inflammation and melanin production. Molecular docking and Biacore were used to verify the target of SAL. Immunofluorescence, luciferase reporter assay, CO-IP, pull-down, Western blot, proximity ligation assay (PLA), and qPCR were used to investigate the molecular mechanism by which SAL regulates skin inflammation and melanin production.

Results: SAL can inhibit the inflammation and melanin production of the volunteers. SAL also exerted a protective effect on the UV-treated Kunming mice. SAL can inhibit the tyrosinase (TYR) activity and TYR mRNA expression in A375 cells. SAL can also regulate the ubiquitination degradation of interferon regulatory factor 1 (IRF1) by targeting prolyl 4-hydroxylase beta polypeptide (P4HB) to mediate inflammation and melanin production. This study also revealed that IRF1 and upstream stimulatory factor 1 (USF1) can form a transcription complex to regulate TYR mRNA expression. IRF1 also mediated inflammatory reaction and TYR expression under UV- and lipopolysaccharide-induced conditions. Moreover, SAL derivative SAL-plus (1-(3,5-dihydroxyphenyl) ethyl-β-d-glucoside) showed better effect on inflammation and melanin production than SAL.

Conclusion: SAL can inhibit the inflammation and melanogenesis of the skin by targeting P4HB and regulating the formation of the IRF1/USF1 transcription complex. In addition, SAL-plus may be a new melanin production and inflammatory inhibitor.

Keywords: Salidroside, tyrosinase, prolyl 4-hydroxylase beta polypeptide (P4HB), interferon regulatory factor 1 (IRF1), upstream stimulatory factor 1 (USF1)