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Am J Physiol. 1999 May;276(5):R1289-94. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.1999.276.5.R1289.

alpha-MSH and its receptors in regulation of tumor necrosis factor-alpha production by human monocyte/macrophages.

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1
Department of Physiology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, Dallas, Texas 75235-9040, USA.

Abstract

The hypothesis that macrophages contain an autocrine circuit based on melanocortin [ACTH and alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH)] peptides has major implications for neuroimmunomodulation research and inflammation therapy. To test this hypothesis, cells of the THP-1 human monocyte/macrophage line were stimulated with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) in the presence and absence of alpha-MSH. The inflammatory cytokine tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha was inhibited in relation to alpha-MSH concentration. Similar inhibitory effects on TNF-alpha were observed with ACTH peptides that contain the alpha-MSH amino acid sequence and act on melanocortin receptors. Nuclease protection assays indicated that expression of the human melanocortin-1 receptor subtype (hMC-1R) occurs in THP-1 cells; Southern blots of RT-PCR product revealed that additional subtypes, hMC-3R and hMC-5R, also occur. Incubation of resting macrophages with antibody to hMC-1R increased TNF-alpha concentration; the antibody also markedly reduced the inhibitory influence of alpha-MSH on TNF-alpha in macrophages treated with LPS. These results in cells known to produce alpha-MSH at rest and to increase secretion of the peptide when challenged are consistent with an endogenous regulatory circuit based on melanocortin peptides and their receptors. Targeting of this neuroimmunomodulatory circuit in inflammatory diseases in which myelomonocytic cells are prominent should be beneficial.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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