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Evolutionary and biomedical consequences of internal melanins.
Pigment Cell and Melanoma Research
The adaptive function of melanin located in the integument is well known. Although pigments are also deposited in various internal organs, their function is unclear. A review of the literature revealed that 'internal melanin' protects against parasites, pollutants, low temperature, oxidative stress, hypoxemia and UV light, and is involved in the development and function of organs. Importantly, several studies have shown that the amount of melanin deposited on the external body surface is correlated with the amount located inside the body. This finding raises the possibility that internal melanin plays more important physiological roles in dark than light-colored individuals. Internal melanin and coloration may therefore not evolve independently. This further emphasizes the major role played by indirect selection in evolutionary processes.
melanin, neuromelanin, melanocyte, coloration, oxidative stress, pollutant, parasite
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