An ultrastructural study of melanocytes and melanosomes in the skin and hair bulbs of rufous albinos.Pigment Cell Res. 1993 Aug; 6(4 Pt 1):209-14.PC
We have examined hair bulb and skin melanocytes of rufous albinos from Southern Africa to further characterize this form of albinism. In the skin melanocytes we find both eumelanosomes and pheomelanosomes at various stages of melanization and, in addition, there appeared to be many aberrant incompletely melanized melanosomes. On average, rufous melanosomes are 30% smaller than normal black skin melanosomes. In the keratinocytes, the melanosomes are packaged into distinct aggregations, whereas in normal black skin, they occur singly. We suggest that the reddish skin color of these albinos is a consequence of an increase in the pheomelanin synthesis resulting in a raised pheomelanin/eumelanin ratio and that the aggregation of melanosomes results in a skin color slightly lighter than normal. In hair bulb melanocytes, only eumelanosomes were seen and these were mostly incompletely melanized. These findings correlate with our visual observations that the hair color of Southern African albinos is very pale (light brown or ginger). Based on our observations, we speculate on the possible cause of rufous albinism.