Monascus species are asexually or sexually reproduced homothallic fungi that can produce a red colorant, specifically the so-called red yeast rice or Anka, which is used as a food ingredient in Asia. Traditional experiences of using Monascus for treating indigestion, enhancing blood circulation, and health remedies motivate us to investigate and repurpose Monascus-fermented products. Here, two new 5H-cyclopenta[c]pyridine type azaphilones, 5S,6S-monaspurpyridine A (1) and 5R,6R-monaspurpyridine A (2), two new xanthonoids, monasxanthones A and B (3 and 4), one new naphthalenone, monasnaphthalenone (5), and one new azaphilone, monapurpurin (6), along with two known compounds were isolated from the 70% EtOH extract of a citrinin-free domesticated strain M. purpureus BCRC 38110. The phytochemical properties of the xanthonoid and naphthalenone components were first identified from Monascus sp. differently from the representative ingredients of polyketide-derived azaphilones. UVB-induced cell viability loss and reactive oxygen species (ROS) overproduction in human keratinocytes were attenuated by monascuspirolide B (7) and ergosterol peroxide (8), indicating their photoprotective potentials. Ergosterol peroxide (8) decreased the melanin contents and tyrosinase activities of mouse melanocytes, depending on the concentration, suggesting their anti-melanogenic effects. In conclusion, six new and two known compounds were isolated from M. purpureus BCRC 38110, and two of them exhibited dermal protective activities. The results revealed the novel potential of M. purpureus for developing natural cosmeceutics against skin photoaging.
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