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There are two broad categories of pigments, endogenous and exogenous

Endogenous pigments
Melanin Melanin is the brown-black, non-haemoglobin

derived pigment present in the hair, skin, choroid of the eye, meninges and adrenal medulla. Various disorders of melanin pigmentation cause generalized and localized hyperpigmentation: i) Generalized hyperpigmentation e.g. in Addison's disease, chloasma observed during pregnancy. ii) Focal hyperpigmentation e.g. caf-eu-lait spots, melanotic tumours. iii) Generalised Hypopigmentation: albinism is an extreme degree of generalised hypopigmentation. iv) Localised hypopigmentation e.g. leucoderma, vitiligo.

This is a rare autosomal recessive

disorder in which there is deficiency of an oxidase enzyme required for break down of homogentisic acid which then accumulates in the tissues and is excreted in the urine(homogentisic aciduria). The pigment is melanin-like and is deposited both intracellularly and intercellularly in the cartilages,

Haemoprotein-derived pigments
Haemoproteins are the most

important endogenous pigments derived from haemoglobin, cytochromes and their break-down products. In disordered iron metabolism and transport, Haemoprotein-derived pigments accumulate in the body. These pigments are haemosiderin, acid haematin(haemozoin), bilirubin, and

. Iron is stored in the tissue in 2 forms: Ferritin Haemosiderin a) Localised haemosiderosis. This develops whenever there is haemorrhage into the tissue. E.g. changing colours of a bruise or a black eye, brown induration in the lungs. b) Generalised(systemic or diffuse) haemosiderosis. Systemic overload with iron may result in generalised

parenchymatous deposition of haemosiderin in liver, pancreas, kidney, and heart. Reticuloendothelial deposition in the liver, spleen, and bone marrow. Generalised or systemic overload of iron may occur due to the following causes: i) Increased erythropoietic activity ii) Excessive intestinal absorption of iron


It is a Haemoprotein-

derived-brown-black pigment containing haem iron in ferric form in acidic medium. Haematin pigment is seen most commonly in chronic

Bilirubin is the normal non-iron

containing pigment present in the bile. It is derived from porphyrin ring of the haem moiety of haemoglobin. Excess of bilirubin or hyperbilirubinaemia causes an important clinical condition called jaundice. Jaundice may appear in one of the following 3 ways: a) prehepatic or haemolytic b) Posthepatic or obstructive c) hepatocellular

Porphyrins are normal pigment

present in haemoglobin, myoglobin and cytochrome. Porphyria refers to an uncommon disorder of inborn abnormality of porphyrin metabolism. Porphyrias are of two broad types:

Lipofuscin(wear and tear pigment)

Lipofuscin or lipochrome is

yellowish-brown intracellular lipid pigment. The pigment is often found in atrophied cells of old age and hence name wear and tear pigment. It is seen in the myocardial fibres, hepatocytes, leydig cells of the testes and in neurons in senile

Microscopic appearance
The pigment is coarse, golden-

brown granular and often accumulates in the central part of the cells around the nuclei. In the heart muscle, the change is associated with wasting of the muscle and is commonly referred to as brown atrophy of

EXOGENOUS pigments are the pigments introduced into

the body from outside such as inhalation, ingestion or inoculation. INHALED PIGMENTS Anthracosis(deposition of carbon particles) is seen in almost every adult lung and generally provokes no reaction of tissue injury INGESTED PIGMENTS Chronic ingestion of some metals may produce pigmentation, e.g. argyria, chronic lead poisoning, melanosis and carotenaemia . INJECTED PIGMENTS(TATTOOING) Pigments like India ink, cinnabar and carbon are injected in the process of tattooing.