Certain degenerative changes in the supra-renal glands may lead to Addison's disease, which is characterized by an excessive pigmentary condition of the skin and mucous membranes.
Prolonged ingestion of arsenic may cause pigmentary changes in the skin.
One result of this among the Vertebrata is that the eyeball is pink in colour, since the cornea, iris and retina being transparent, the red blood contained in the capillaries is unmasked by the absence of pigmentary material.
It is the result of the too great intensity of the light incident upon the retina, and which in normal eyeballs is adequately diminished by the absorptive power of the pigmentary material.
Furth and Hugo Schneider showed that a tyrosinase could be obtained from the blood of certain insects, and, acting upon a chromogen present in the blood, converted it into a pigmentary substance of melanin-like nature.
Since then (1904) Miss Florence Durham has shown that if the skins of young or embryonic mammals (rats, rabbits and guinea-pigs) be ground up and extracted in water, and the expressed juice be then incubated with solid tyrosin for twentyfour hours, with the addition of a very small amount of ferrous sulphate to act as an activator, a pigmentary substance is thrown down.
These, however, may with propriety be regarded as but different names for the same pigmentary substance, the variations in the character of which are attributable to the different modes in which the pigments are manufactured.
The diseases to which the application has been hitherto confined are papillomata, lupus vulgaris, epithelial tumours, syphilitic ulcers, pigmentary naevi, angiomata, and pruritus and chronic itching of the skin; but the use of radium in therapeutics is still experimental.