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Peptides. 2010 Jan;31(1):116-22. doi: 10.1016/j.peptides.2009.09.030. Epub 2009 Sep 30.

The peptide NDP-MSH induces phenotype changes in the heart that resemble ischemic preconditioning.

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  • 1Center for Preclinical Investigation, Fondazione IRCCS Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, Mangiagalli e Regina Elena, Milano, Italy.


alpha-Melanocyte-stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH) is a pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC)-derived peptide that exerts multiple protective effects on host cells. Previous investigations showed that treatment with alpha-MSH or synthetic melanocortin agonists reduces heart damage in reperfusion injury and transplantation. The aim of this preclinical research was to determine whether melanocortin treatment induces preconditioning-like cardioprotection. In particular, the plan was to assess whether melanocortin administration causes phenotype changes similar to those induced by repetitive ischemic events. The idea was conceived because both ischemic preconditioning and melanocortin signaling largely depend on cAMP response element binding protein (CREB) phosphorylation. Rats received single i.v. injections of 750microg/kg of the alpha-MSH analogue Nle(4),DPhe(7)-alpha-MSH (NDP-MSH) or saline and were sacrificed at 0.5, 1, 3, or 5h. Western blot analysis showed that rat hearts expressed melanocortin 1 receptor (MC1R) protein. Treatment with NDP-MSH was associated with early and marked increase in interleukin 6 (IL-6) mRNA. This was followed by signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) phosphorylation and induction of suppressor of cytokine signaling 3 (SOCS3). There were no changes in expression of other cytokines of the IL-6 family. Expression of IL-10, IL-1beta, and TNF-alpha was likewise unaltered. In hearts of rats treated with NDP-MSH there was increased expression of the orphan nuclear receptor Nur77. The data indicate that NDP-MSH induces phenotype changes that closely resemble ischemic preconditioning and likely contribute to its established protection against reperfusion injury. In addition, the increased expression of Nur77 and SOCS3 could be part of a broader anti-inflammatory effect.

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