The Scientific World Journal

The Scientific World Journal / 2010 / Article

Review Article | Open Access

Volume 10 |Article ID 735305 | 14 pages | https://doi.org/10.1100/tsw.2010.173

The Melanocortin System in Control of Inflammation

Academic Editor: Mauro Perretti
Received07 Jul 2010
Revised27 Jul 2010
Accepted08 Aug 2010

Abstract

Melanocortin peptides, the collective term for α-, β-, and γ-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (α-, β-, γ-MSH) and adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), are elements of an ancient modulatory system. Natural melanocortins derive from the common precursor pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC). Five receptor subtypes for melanocortins (MC1-MC5) are widely distributed in brain regions and in peripheral cells. Melanocortin receptor activation by natural or synthetic ligands exerts marked anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory effects. The anticytokine action and the inhibitory influences on inflammatory cell migration make melanocortins potential new drugs for treatment of inflammatory disorders. Effectiveness in treatment of acute, chronic, and systemic inflammatory disorders is well documented in preclinical studies. Further, melanocortins are promising compounds in neuroprotection. This review examines the main signaling circuits in anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory actions of melanocortins, and the potential therapeutic use of these molecules.


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