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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1999 Oct 20;885:173-82.

Mechanisms of antiinflammatory action of alpha-MSH peptides. In vivo and in vitro evidence.

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Department of Physiology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas 75235, USA.


alpha-Melanocyte stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH) modulates all forms of inflammation by acting on peripheral inflammatory cells, glial inflammatory cells, and on CNS receptors that activate descending antiinflammatory neural pathways. The multiple actions of this ancient peptide suggest that there is no singular biochemical mechanism through which it exerts its antiinflammatory activity. However, research on IL-10 deficient and Agouti protein hypersecreting mice provide new insights into the actions of the peptide in living animals. Studies of cultured human astrocytes, whole murine brain, and human monocyte/macrophages indicate that a primary effect of the peptide is modulation of activation of the nuclear transcription factor kappa B. The latter influence may underlie the established reduction of gene expression and production of proinflammatory peptides and inducible nitric oxide by alpha-MSH peptides.

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