Abstract

Melanin is a ubiquitous chromophore of human skin but its in vivo optical properties are relatively unexplored. We present here a detailed study of the optical absorption of melanin present in melanocytic nevi of human subjects with Fitzpatrick skin type III. Using diffuse reflectance spectroscopy, we show that the melanin absorption spectrum exhibits an exponential dependence on wavelength in vivo with a decay constant that follows a normal distribution, characteristic of a random biological variable. This is the first time such direct in vivo quantitative evidence is obtained supporting the recently proposed hypothesis of chemical and structural disorder for melanin. In addition, the ability to measure the melanin optical properties in vivo opens new ways for the study of melanin in its native environment as well as for the non-invasive study and characterization of various skin disorders and diseases.

© 2008 Optical Society of America

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  1. J. P. Ortonne, "Photoprotective properties of skin melanin," Br. J. Dermatol. 146, 7-10 (2002).
    [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  2. H. Z. Hill, "The function of melanin or 6 blind people examine an elephant," BioEssays 14, 49-56 (1992).
    [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  3. W. L. Morison, "What is the function of melanin?" Arch. Dermatol. 121, 1160-1163 (1985).
    [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  4. J. D. Simon and S. Ito, "The chemical structure of melanin," Pigment Cell Res. 17, 423-424 (2004).
    [CrossRef]
  5. S. Ito, "A chemist's view of melanogenesis," Pigment Cell Res. 16, 230-236 (2003).
    [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  6. P. Meredith and T. Sarna, "The physical and chemical properties of Eumelanin," Pigment Cell Res. 19, 572-594 (2006).
    [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  7. P. Meredith, B. J. Powell, J. Riesz, S. P. Nighswander-Rempel, M. R. Pederson, and E. G. Moore, "Towards structure-property-function relationships for eumelanin," Soft Matter 2, 37-44 (2006).
    [CrossRef]
  8. M. L. Tran, B. J. Powell, and P. Meredith, "Chemical and structural disorder in eumelanins: a possible explanation for broadband absorbance," Biophys. J. 90, 743-752 (2006).
    [CrossRef]
  9. G. Zonios, A. Dimou, I. Bassukas, D. Galaris, A. Tsolakidis, and E. Kaxiras, "Melanin absorption spectroscopy: a new method for noninvasive skin investigation and melanoma detection," J. Biomed. Opt. 13, 014017 (2008).
    [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  10. S. L. Jacques and D. J. McAuliffe, "The melanosome - threshold temperature for explosive vaporization and internal absorption-coefficient during pulsed laser irradiation," Photochem. Photobiol. 53, 769-775 (1991).
    [PubMed]
  11. G. Zonios and A. Dimou, "Modeling diffuse reflectance from semi-infinite turbid media: application to the study of skin optical properties," Opt. Express 14, 8661-8674 (2006).
    [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  12. G. Zonios, J. Bykowski, and N. Kollias, "Skin melanin, hemoglobin, and light scattering properties can be quantitatively assessed in vivo using diffuse reflectance spectroscopy," J. Invest. Dermatol. 117, 1452-1457 (2001).
    [CrossRef]
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    [CrossRef]
  16. S. J. Orlow, M. P. Osber, and J. M. Pawelek, "Synthesis and characterization of melanins from dihydroxy-2-carboxylic acid and dihydroxyindole," Pigment Cell Res. 5, 113-121 (1992).
    [CrossRef] [PubMed]

2008

G. Zonios, A. Dimou, I. Bassukas, D. Galaris, A. Tsolakidis, and E. Kaxiras, "Melanin absorption spectroscopy: a new method for noninvasive skin investigation and melanoma detection," J. Biomed. Opt. 13, 014017 (2008).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

2007

2006

G. Zonios and A. Dimou, "Modeling diffuse reflectance from semi-infinite turbid media: application to the study of skin optical properties," Opt. Express 14, 8661-8674 (2006).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

P. Meredith and T. Sarna, "The physical and chemical properties of Eumelanin," Pigment Cell Res. 19, 572-594 (2006).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

P. Meredith, B. J. Powell, J. Riesz, S. P. Nighswander-Rempel, M. R. Pederson, and E. G. Moore, "Towards structure-property-function relationships for eumelanin," Soft Matter 2, 37-44 (2006).
[CrossRef]

M. L. Tran, B. J. Powell, and P. Meredith, "Chemical and structural disorder in eumelanins: a possible explanation for broadband absorbance," Biophys. J. 90, 743-752 (2006).
[CrossRef]

2004

J. D. Simon and S. Ito, "The chemical structure of melanin," Pigment Cell Res. 17, 423-424 (2004).
[CrossRef]

2003

S. Ito, "A chemist's view of melanogenesis," Pigment Cell Res. 16, 230-236 (2003).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

2002

J. P. Ortonne, "Photoprotective properties of skin melanin," Br. J. Dermatol. 146, 7-10 (2002).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

2001

G. Zonios, J. Bykowski, and N. Kollias, "Skin melanin, hemoglobin, and light scattering properties can be quantitatively assessed in vivo using diffuse reflectance spectroscopy," J. Invest. Dermatol. 117, 1452-1457 (2001).
[CrossRef]

1998

D. G. Papageorgiou, I. N. Demetropoulos, and I. E. Lagaris, "MERLIN-3.0 - A multidimensional optimization environment," Comput. Phys. Commun. 109, 227-249 (1998).
[CrossRef]

1997

1992

S. J. Orlow, M. P. Osber, and J. M. Pawelek, "Synthesis and characterization of melanins from dihydroxy-2-carboxylic acid and dihydroxyindole," Pigment Cell Res. 5, 113-121 (1992).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

H. Z. Hill, "The function of melanin or 6 blind people examine an elephant," BioEssays 14, 49-56 (1992).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

1991

S. L. Jacques and D. J. McAuliffe, "The melanosome - threshold temperature for explosive vaporization and internal absorption-coefficient during pulsed laser irradiation," Photochem. Photobiol. 53, 769-775 (1991).
[PubMed]

1985

W. L. Morison, "What is the function of melanin?" Arch. Dermatol. 121, 1160-1163 (1985).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

Bassukas, I.

G. Zonios, A. Dimou, I. Bassukas, D. Galaris, A. Tsolakidis, and E. Kaxiras, "Melanin absorption spectroscopy: a new method for noninvasive skin investigation and melanoma detection," J. Biomed. Opt. 13, 014017 (2008).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

Bigio, I. J.

Boyer, J.

Bykowski, J.

G. Zonios, J. Bykowski, and N. Kollias, "Skin melanin, hemoglobin, and light scattering properties can be quantitatively assessed in vivo using diffuse reflectance spectroscopy," J. Invest. Dermatol. 117, 1452-1457 (2001).
[CrossRef]

Demetropoulos, I. N.

D. G. Papageorgiou, I. N. Demetropoulos, and I. E. Lagaris, "MERLIN-3.0 - A multidimensional optimization environment," Comput. Phys. Commun. 109, 227-249 (1998).
[CrossRef]

Dimou, A.

G. Zonios, A. Dimou, I. Bassukas, D. Galaris, A. Tsolakidis, and E. Kaxiras, "Melanin absorption spectroscopy: a new method for noninvasive skin investigation and melanoma detection," J. Biomed. Opt. 13, 014017 (2008).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

G. Zonios and A. Dimou, "Modeling diffuse reflectance from semi-infinite turbid media: application to the study of skin optical properties," Opt. Express 14, 8661-8674 (2006).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

Fuselier, T.

Galaris, D.

G. Zonios, A. Dimou, I. Bassukas, D. Galaris, A. Tsolakidis, and E. Kaxiras, "Melanin absorption spectroscopy: a new method for noninvasive skin investigation and melanoma detection," J. Biomed. Opt. 13, 014017 (2008).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

Hill, H. Z.

H. Z. Hill, "The function of melanin or 6 blind people examine an elephant," BioEssays 14, 49-56 (1992).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

Hillman, T. R.

Ito, S.

J. D. Simon and S. Ito, "The chemical structure of melanin," Pigment Cell Res. 17, 423-424 (2004).
[CrossRef]

S. Ito, "A chemist's view of melanogenesis," Pigment Cell Res. 16, 230-236 (2003).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

Jacques, S. L.

S. L. Jacques and D. J. McAuliffe, "The melanosome - threshold temperature for explosive vaporization and internal absorption-coefficient during pulsed laser irradiation," Photochem. Photobiol. 53, 769-775 (1991).
[PubMed]

Johnson, T. M.

Kaxiras, E.

G. Zonios, A. Dimou, I. Bassukas, D. Galaris, A. Tsolakidis, and E. Kaxiras, "Melanin absorption spectroscopy: a new method for noninvasive skin investigation and melanoma detection," J. Biomed. Opt. 13, 014017 (2008).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

Kollias, N.

G. Zonios, J. Bykowski, and N. Kollias, "Skin melanin, hemoglobin, and light scattering properties can be quantitatively assessed in vivo using diffuse reflectance spectroscopy," J. Invest. Dermatol. 117, 1452-1457 (2001).
[CrossRef]

Lagaris, I. E.

D. G. Papageorgiou, I. N. Demetropoulos, and I. E. Lagaris, "MERLIN-3.0 - A multidimensional optimization environment," Comput. Phys. Commun. 109, 227-249 (1998).
[CrossRef]

McAuliffe, D. J.

S. L. Jacques and D. J. McAuliffe, "The melanosome - threshold temperature for explosive vaporization and internal absorption-coefficient during pulsed laser irradiation," Photochem. Photobiol. 53, 769-775 (1991).
[PubMed]

Meredith, P.

P. Meredith and T. Sarna, "The physical and chemical properties of Eumelanin," Pigment Cell Res. 19, 572-594 (2006).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

M. L. Tran, B. J. Powell, and P. Meredith, "Chemical and structural disorder in eumelanins: a possible explanation for broadband absorbance," Biophys. J. 90, 743-752 (2006).
[CrossRef]

P. Meredith, B. J. Powell, J. Riesz, S. P. Nighswander-Rempel, M. R. Pederson, and E. G. Moore, "Towards structure-property-function relationships for eumelanin," Soft Matter 2, 37-44 (2006).
[CrossRef]

Moore, E. G.

P. Meredith, B. J. Powell, J. Riesz, S. P. Nighswander-Rempel, M. R. Pederson, and E. G. Moore, "Towards structure-property-function relationships for eumelanin," Soft Matter 2, 37-44 (2006).
[CrossRef]

Morison, W. L.

W. L. Morison, "What is the function of melanin?" Arch. Dermatol. 121, 1160-1163 (1985).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

Mourant, J. R.

Nighswander-Rempel, S. P.

P. Meredith, B. J. Powell, J. Riesz, S. P. Nighswander-Rempel, M. R. Pederson, and E. G. Moore, "Towards structure-property-function relationships for eumelanin," Soft Matter 2, 37-44 (2006).
[CrossRef]

Orlow, S. J.

S. J. Orlow, M. P. Osber, and J. M. Pawelek, "Synthesis and characterization of melanins from dihydroxy-2-carboxylic acid and dihydroxyindole," Pigment Cell Res. 5, 113-121 (1992).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

Ortonne, J. P.

J. P. Ortonne, "Photoprotective properties of skin melanin," Br. J. Dermatol. 146, 7-10 (2002).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

Osber, M. P.

S. J. Orlow, M. P. Osber, and J. M. Pawelek, "Synthesis and characterization of melanins from dihydroxy-2-carboxylic acid and dihydroxyindole," Pigment Cell Res. 5, 113-121 (1992).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

Papageorgiou, D. G.

D. G. Papageorgiou, I. N. Demetropoulos, and I. E. Lagaris, "MERLIN-3.0 - A multidimensional optimization environment," Comput. Phys. Commun. 109, 227-249 (1998).
[CrossRef]

Pawelek, J. M.

S. J. Orlow, M. P. Osber, and J. M. Pawelek, "Synthesis and characterization of melanins from dihydroxy-2-carboxylic acid and dihydroxyindole," Pigment Cell Res. 5, 113-121 (1992).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

Pederson, M. R.

P. Meredith, B. J. Powell, J. Riesz, S. P. Nighswander-Rempel, M. R. Pederson, and E. G. Moore, "Towards structure-property-function relationships for eumelanin," Soft Matter 2, 37-44 (2006).
[CrossRef]

Powell, B. J.

P. Meredith, B. J. Powell, J. Riesz, S. P. Nighswander-Rempel, M. R. Pederson, and E. G. Moore, "Towards structure-property-function relationships for eumelanin," Soft Matter 2, 37-44 (2006).
[CrossRef]

M. L. Tran, B. J. Powell, and P. Meredith, "Chemical and structural disorder in eumelanins: a possible explanation for broadband absorbance," Biophys. J. 90, 743-752 (2006).
[CrossRef]

Riesz, J.

P. Meredith, B. J. Powell, J. Riesz, S. P. Nighswander-Rempel, M. R. Pederson, and E. G. Moore, "Towards structure-property-function relationships for eumelanin," Soft Matter 2, 37-44 (2006).
[CrossRef]

Sampson, D. D.

Sarna, T.

P. Meredith and T. Sarna, "The physical and chemical properties of Eumelanin," Pigment Cell Res. 19, 572-594 (2006).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

Schneiderheinze, D. H. P.

Simon, J. D.

J. D. Simon and S. Ito, "The chemical structure of melanin," Pigment Cell Res. 17, 423-424 (2004).
[CrossRef]

Tran, M. L.

M. L. Tran, B. J. Powell, and P. Meredith, "Chemical and structural disorder in eumelanins: a possible explanation for broadband absorbance," Biophys. J. 90, 743-752 (2006).
[CrossRef]

Tsolakidis, A.

G. Zonios, A. Dimou, I. Bassukas, D. Galaris, A. Tsolakidis, and E. Kaxiras, "Melanin absorption spectroscopy: a new method for noninvasive skin investigation and melanoma detection," J. Biomed. Opt. 13, 014017 (2008).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

Zonios, G.

G. Zonios, A. Dimou, I. Bassukas, D. Galaris, A. Tsolakidis, and E. Kaxiras, "Melanin absorption spectroscopy: a new method for noninvasive skin investigation and melanoma detection," J. Biomed. Opt. 13, 014017 (2008).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

G. Zonios and A. Dimou, "Modeling diffuse reflectance from semi-infinite turbid media: application to the study of skin optical properties," Opt. Express 14, 8661-8674 (2006).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

G. Zonios, J. Bykowski, and N. Kollias, "Skin melanin, hemoglobin, and light scattering properties can be quantitatively assessed in vivo using diffuse reflectance spectroscopy," J. Invest. Dermatol. 117, 1452-1457 (2001).
[CrossRef]

Appl. Opt.

Arch. Dermatol.

W. L. Morison, "What is the function of melanin?" Arch. Dermatol. 121, 1160-1163 (1985).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

BioEssays

H. Z. Hill, "The function of melanin or 6 blind people examine an elephant," BioEssays 14, 49-56 (1992).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

Biophys. J.

M. L. Tran, B. J. Powell, and P. Meredith, "Chemical and structural disorder in eumelanins: a possible explanation for broadband absorbance," Biophys. J. 90, 743-752 (2006).
[CrossRef]

Br. J. Dermatol.

J. P. Ortonne, "Photoprotective properties of skin melanin," Br. J. Dermatol. 146, 7-10 (2002).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

Comput. Phys. Commun.

D. G. Papageorgiou, I. N. Demetropoulos, and I. E. Lagaris, "MERLIN-3.0 - A multidimensional optimization environment," Comput. Phys. Commun. 109, 227-249 (1998).
[CrossRef]

J. Biomed. Opt.

G. Zonios, A. Dimou, I. Bassukas, D. Galaris, A. Tsolakidis, and E. Kaxiras, "Melanin absorption spectroscopy: a new method for noninvasive skin investigation and melanoma detection," J. Biomed. Opt. 13, 014017 (2008).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

J. Invest. Dermatol.

G. Zonios, J. Bykowski, and N. Kollias, "Skin melanin, hemoglobin, and light scattering properties can be quantitatively assessed in vivo using diffuse reflectance spectroscopy," J. Invest. Dermatol. 117, 1452-1457 (2001).
[CrossRef]

Opt. Express

Photochem. Photobiol.

S. L. Jacques and D. J. McAuliffe, "The melanosome - threshold temperature for explosive vaporization and internal absorption-coefficient during pulsed laser irradiation," Photochem. Photobiol. 53, 769-775 (1991).
[PubMed]

Pigment Cell Res.

J. D. Simon and S. Ito, "The chemical structure of melanin," Pigment Cell Res. 17, 423-424 (2004).
[CrossRef]

S. Ito, "A chemist's view of melanogenesis," Pigment Cell Res. 16, 230-236 (2003).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

P. Meredith and T. Sarna, "The physical and chemical properties of Eumelanin," Pigment Cell Res. 19, 572-594 (2006).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

S. J. Orlow, M. P. Osber, and J. M. Pawelek, "Synthesis and characterization of melanins from dihydroxy-2-carboxylic acid and dihydroxyindole," Pigment Cell Res. 5, 113-121 (1992).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

Soft Matter

P. Meredith, B. J. Powell, J. Riesz, S. P. Nighswander-Rempel, M. R. Pederson, and E. G. Moore, "Towards structure-property-function relationships for eumelanin," Soft Matter 2, 37-44 (2006).
[CrossRef]

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Figures (2)

Fig. 1.
Fig. 1.

Diffuse reflectance spectra measured on two representative melanocytic nevi, from two different volunteers. Red lines indicate model fits.

Fig. 2.
Fig. 2.

Distribution of melanin absorption exponential decay parameter, km , for all melanocytic nevi skin sites studied. The red line indicates a Gaussian distribution fit to the data, centered at km =5.3 with width equal to 1.1 (FWHM). To produce this figure, km values were binned with a bin width equal to 0.25.

Equations (3)

Equations on this page are rendered with MathJax. Learn more.

R ( λ ) = 1 k 1 1 μ s ( λ ) + k 2 μ a ( λ ) μ s ( λ )
μ a ( λ ) = c Hb 1 ε Hb 1 ( λ ) + c Hb 2 ε Hb 2 ( λ ) + c w ε w ( λ ) + c m e k m ( λ λ 0 λ 0 )
μ s ( λ ) = ( 1 c 1 λ λ 1 λ 2 λ 1 ) μ s ( λ 1 )

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