There is a rapid increase in the demand for natural hypopigmenting agents from marine sources for cosmeceutical and pharmaceutical applications. Currently, marine macroalgae are considered as a safe and effective source of diverse bioactive compounds. Many research groups are exploring marine macroalgae to discover and characterize novel compounds for cosmeceutical, nutraceutical, and pharmaceutical applications. Many types of bioactive secondary metabolites from marine algae, including phlorotannins, sulfated polysaccharides, carotenoids, and meroterpenoids, have already been documented for their potential applications in the pharmaceutical industry. Among these metabolites, phlorotannins from brown algae have been widely screened for their pharmaceutical and hypopigmenting effects. Unfortunately, the majority of these articles did not have detailed investigations on molecular targets, which is critical to fulfilling the criteria for their cosmeceutical and pharmaceutical use. Very recently, a few meroterpenoids have been discovered from Sargassum
sp., with the examination of their anti-melanogenic properties and mechanisms. Despite the scarcity of in vivo and clinical investigations of molecular mechanistic events of marine algae-derived hypopigmenting agents, identifying the therapeutic targets and their validation in humans has been a major challenge for future studies. In this review, we focused on available data representing molecular mechanisms underlying hypopigmenting properties of potential marine brown alga-derived compounds.
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