Send to

Choose Destination
Nephrol Dial Transplant. 2000 Aug;15(8):1212-6.

Plasma concentrations of alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone are elevated in patients on chronic haemodialysis.

Author information

Third Division of Internal Medicine, Ospedale Maggiore di Milano IRCCS, Milan, Italy.



Clinical and/or laboratory signs of systemic inflammation occur frequently in patients undergoing long-term haemodialysis. It is likely, therefore, that a compensatory release of endogenous anti-inflammatory molecules occurs to limit host reactions. The aim of the present research was to determine if the potent anti-inflammatory peptide alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH), a pro-opiomelanocortin derivative, is increased in plasma of haemodialysis patients. Because endotoxin and cytokines induce alpha-MSH in vivo and in vitro, we also measured plasma concentrations of endotoxin, interleukin-6 (IL-6), and tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha), and the two circulating products of activated monocytes, nitric oxide (NO) and neopterin.


Thirty-five chronic haemodialysis patients, 20 patients with chronic renal failure not yet on dialysis, and 35 normal controls were included in the study. In the haemodialysis group, blood samples were obtained before and at the end of a dialysis session. Plasma alpha-MSH was measured using a double antibody radioimmunoassay, and IL-6, TNF-alpha, and neopterin using specific enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays. Plasma nitrites were determined by a colorimetric method, and endotoxin with the quantitative chromogenic LAL (limulus amoebocyte lysate) method.


Mean plasma alpha-MSH was higher in haemodialysis patients than in control subjects, with the peptide concentrations being particularly elevated in dialysed patients with detectable endotoxin. High alpha-MSH concentrations were observed in the pre-dialysis samples, with no substantial change at the end of the dialysis session. Plasma concentrations of IL-6, TNF-alpha, neopterin, and NO were generally elevated in chronic haemodialysis patients and there was a negative correlation between circulating alpha-MSH and IL-6. In patients with renal failure not yet on dialysis, mean plasma alpha-MSH was similar to that of normal subjects.


alpha-MSH is increased in the circulation of chronic haemodialysis patients and particularly so in case of detectable endotoxaemia. Reduction of renal clearance is unlikely to contribute to the observed rise of the peptide because alpha-MSH concentration is not increased in patients with chronic renal failure who are not yet on dialysis. It is likely that dialysis-associated endotoxaemia, directly and/or through cytokine release, enhances the production of the anti-inflammatory mediator alpha-MSH that limits host reactions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Silverchair Information Systems
Loading ...
Support Center