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Peptides. 1996;17(4):675-9.

The neuropeptide alpha-MSH has specific receptors on neutrophils and reduces chemotaxis in vitro.

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Institute of Internal Medicine, University of Milan, Italy.


The proopiomelanocortin-derived peptide alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH) has potent anti-inflammatory effects in all animal models of inflammation against which it has been tested. Understanding of the mechanism by which this occurs is incomplete, although there is recent evidence for alpha-MSH receptors in murine and human macrophages and for modulation of production of proinflammatory cytokines and related mediators by alpha-MSH. Because of the prominence of neutrophils in early stages of inflammatory reactions where alpha-MSH is effective, we examined human neutrophils for evidence of mRNA for alpha-MSH receptors and for inhibition of neutrophil chemotaxis. There was accumulation of mRNA for melanocortin receptor 1 (MC1) in RT/PCR product from neutrophils stimulated with interferon and LPS. In subsequent studies alpha-MSH inhibited migration of neutrophils from most normal volunteers when the cells were placed in FMLP or IL-8 gradients. The inhibition by alpha-MSH could be traced to alterations in cAMP in neutrophils. The presence of alpha-MSH receptor message in neutrophils is consistent with the established anti-inflammatory effects of the peptide. Direct inhibition of neutrophil chemotaxis likely contributes to the anti-inflammatory activity of alpha-MSH.

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