Extradermal melanin transfer? Lack of macroscopic spleen melanization in old C57BL/6 mice with de-synchronized hair cycle.

  • Dominika Michalczyk Department of Biophysics, Faculty of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Biotechnology, Jagiellonian University, Kraków, Poland.;
  • Malgorzata Popik
  • Aleksander Salwinski
  • Przemyslaw M Plonka


In quest of alternate, extradermal path of melanin transfer from skin to the visceral organs, we suggested that some portions of such melanin may be deposited in the spleen, which in young black C57BL/6 mice is often melanized. Here, we confirm these observation using young C57BL/6 female mice (up to 17 weeks) and show that this phenomenon cannot be observed in old animals where the hair cycle is not synchronized any more. The experiments were carried out both on spontaneous and depilation-induced hair cycle. We have checked it as a side-observation over many other experiments carried out on young and old C57BL/6 female mice (up to 2.5 years of life). The presence or absence of melanin in the spleens was checked macroscopically, and histologically by Fontana-Masson (FM) staining, and synchronization of the hair cycle - by standard histomorphometric analysis of the back skin hair follicles. In about 40% of old spleens black FM-stainable "debris" could be found under closer histological examination. This study shows that, at least in part, the phenomenon of splenic melanosis in C57BL/6 mice can be correlated with the synchronized skin melanization parallel to the hair cycle progress, and that splenic melanin undergoes gradual degradation during the mouse life.