MSH is an explosively new hormone that is deficient in many people due to inflammation, infections and possible toxin exposures of various kinds. Some feel it can even be permanently destroyed, but this is unfortunately usually due to very narrow and limited treatment abilities — fetish medical interests. According to the brilliant leader in MSH research, who has the two major textbooks on the topic, Dr. Cone, MSH has vast roles in the body — perhaps one reason it is being made all over the world with eagerness for many years.
He includes in his The Melanocortin System, from a paper by Hruby, Cai, et. al. (2002) that MSH has some of these sample effects:
Heart Function Benefits
Stress Coping Help
Better Attention and Memory
Cancer and UV Protection, e.g., skin cancer
Weight Control or a Restoration of Normal Eating
Amusingly, some authors act like they have discovered MSH, when everything they say about MSH is well-known throughout the pharmaceutical and research world community. One just needs to read the basics in basic books and articles. Some feel they have discovered a link between Leptin and obesity and MSH. And while these things are related, there is no simplistic path, since as the article by Shimizu and others below shows Leptin and MSH are independent in a great many ways.
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Nat Neurosci. 2005 May;8(5):571-8. Anatomy and regulation of the central melanocortin system.
The central melanocortin system [which makes MSH] is perhaps the best-characterized neuronal pathway involved in the regulation of energy homeostasis. This collection of circuits is unique in having the capability of sensing signals from a staggering array of hormones, nutrients and afferent neural inputs. It is likely to be involved in integrating long-term adipostatic signals from leptin and insulin, primarily received by the hypothalamus, with acute signals regulating hunger and satiety, primarily received by the brainstem. The system is also unique from a regulatory point of view in that it is composed of fibers expressing both agonists and antagonists of melanocortin receptors. Given that the central melanocortin system is an active target for development of drugs for the treatment of obesity, diabetes and cachexia, it is important to understand the system in its full complexity, including the likelihood that the system also regulates the cardiovascular and reproductive systems.
J Endocrinol. 2007 Apr;193(1):1-9.
The leptin-dependent and -independent melanocortin signaling system: regulation of feeding and energy expenditure.
Shimizu H, Inoue K, Mori M.
The brain hypothalamus coordinates extra-hypothalamic regions to maintain energy homeostasis through the regulation of food intake and energy expenditure. A number of anorexigenic and orexigenic molecules in the hypothalamic nuclei participate in the control of energy homeostasis. Leptin and pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC)-derived alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone are key anorectic molecules, and the leptin receptor and POMC gene are both expressed in the hypothalamic arcuate nucleus. Although it has been considered that melanocortin signaling is localized downstream to leptin signaling, data have accumulated to support the concept of a leptin-independent melanocortin signaling system. We focus on and review the melanocortin signaling system that functions dependently or independently of leptin signaling in the regulation of energy homeostasis.
Department of Medicine, Division of Digestive Diseases, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
BACKGROUND & AIMS: KPV is a tripeptide (Lys-Pro-Val), which possesses anti-inflammatory properties; however, its mechanisms of action still remain unknown. PepT1 is a di/tripeptide transporter normally expressed in the small intestine and induced in colon during inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The aim of this study was to 1) investigate whether the KPV anti-inflammatory effect is PepT1-mediated in intestinal epithelian and immune cells, and 2) examine the anti-inflammatory effects in two models of mice colitis. METHODS: Human intestinal epithelial cells Caco2-BBE, HT29-Cl.19A, and human T cells (Jurkat) were stimulated with pro-inflammatory cytokines in the present or absence of KPV. KPV anti-inflammatory effect was assessed using a NF-kappaB luciferase gene reporter, Western blot, real-time RT-PCR and ELISA. Uptake experiments were performed using cold KPV as a competitor for PepT1 radiolabelled substrate or using [(3)H]KPV to determine kinetic characteristics of KPV uptake. Anti-inflammatory effect of KPV was also investigated in DSS- and TNBS-induced colitis in mice. KPV was added to drinking water and inflammation was assessed at the histologic level and by proinflammatory cytokine mRNA expression. RESULTS: Nanomolar concentrations of KPV inhibit the activation of NF-kappaB and MAP kinase inflammatory signaling pathways, and reduce pro-inflammatory cytokine secretion. We found that KPV acts via PepT1 expressed in immune and intestinal epithelial cells. Furthermore, oral administration of KPV reduces the incidence of DSS- and TNBS-induced colitis indicated by a decrease in pro-inflammatory cytokine expression. CONCLUSIONS: This study indicates tht KPV is transported into cells by PepT1 and might be a new therapeutic agent for IBD.
Faculty of Medicine, University of Latvia, Riga, Latvia.
The central melanocortinergic system plays an important role in regulating different aspects of energy homeostasis and the immunomodulatory response. In the present study, we evaluated the in vivo activities of food intake suppression and anti-inflammatory activity of THIQ, which has been proposed to possess high and selective melanocortin-4 receptor agonistic activity in vitro. The results showed that THIQ (0.1, 0.3 and 1 nmol/rat, intracerebroventricularly) is less effective in reducing food intake and body weights of rats than the non-selective melanocortin receptor agonist melanotan II. Electron paramagnetic resonance measurements in mice brain tissue showed that THIQ at doses of 0.001 and 0.01 nmol/mouse (intracisternally) increased the concentration of nitric oxide, which is not typical for melanocortin receptor agonists. In an experimental brain inflammation model, THIQ only weakly antagonized lipopolysaccharide-induced nitric oxide overproduction in brain tissue at a dose of 0.01 nmol/mouse. Our findings provide new insight into the in vivo pharmacological profile of the in vitro selective melanocortin-4 receptor agonist THIQ and give grounds for caution when interpreting and predicting melanocortin receptor selective agonist activity in vivo.
INTRODUCTION: Bremelanotide is an analogue of the naturally occurring peptide alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH). It stimulates erection in men and male rats, and is currently in clinical trials for the treatment of erectile dysfunction. AIM: To review the effects of bremelanotide, an analogue of the naturally occurring peptide alpha-MSH, on the preclinical indices of sexual desire in female rats, and where in the brain these actions may occur. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Appetitive sexual behaviors, such as solicitations, hops and darts, and pacing, were assessed along with consummatory behaviors such as lordosis. The involvement of brain regions was assessed following direct administration to the region, by the stimulation of molecular markers of neural activation, and using microdialysis to examine extracellular fluid for different neurotransmitters. METHODS: Using a model that allows ovariectomized, hormone-primed female rats to control the timing of sexual encounters with males, we tested the ability of bremelanotide to increase appetitive (proceptive) and/or consummatory sexual behaviors. RESULTS: Bremelanotide dramatically and selectively increased measures of solicitation in female rats, without altering pacing or lordosis, following both peripheral (subcutaneous) administration or infusions directly into the lateral ventricles or medial preoptic area (mPOA), but not the ventromedial hypothalamus. The mPOA is critical for the display of appetitive sexual behaviors in females and males of a variety of species. Peripheral administration of bremelanotide activates the mPOA and other hypothalamic and limbic regions of the brain involved in sexual behavior, and may work by activating dopamine terminals in the mPOA. CONCLUSIONS: To the extent that solicitations indicate the desire of female rats to engage in sexual activity, bremelanotide appears to possess the behavioral, pharmacological, and neuroanatomical specificity required of a drug in the treatment of hypoactive sexual desire disorders.
Department of Dermatology, University Clinics Mnster, Von-Esmarch-Str. 58, D-48149 Mnster, Germany. firstname.lastname@example.org
alpha-Melanocyte-stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH) is a tridecapeptide derived from the proopiomelanocortin by post-translational processing. In addition to its effects on melanocytes, alpha-MSH has potent anti-inflammatory effects when administered systemically or locally. The anti-inflammatory effects of alpha-MSH are mediated by direct effects on cells of the immune system as well as indirectly by affecting the function of resident non-immune cells. alpha-MSH affects several pathways implicated in regulation of inflammatory responses such as NF-kappaB activation, expression of adhesion molecules and chemokine receptors, production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and other mediators. Thus alpha-MSH may modulate inflammatory cell proliferation, activity and migration. The anti-inflammatory effects of alpha-MSH have been confirmed by means of animal models of inflammation such as irritant and allergic contact dermatitis, cutaneous vasculitis, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, ocular and brain inflammation. Most of the anti-inflammatory activities of alpha-MSH can be attributed to its C-terminal tripeptide KPV. K(D)PT, a derivative of KPV corresponding to the amino acid 193-195 of IL-1beta, is currently emerging as another tripeptide with potent anti-inflammatory effects. The anti-inflammatory potential together with the favourable physiochemical properties most likely will allow these agents to be developed for the treatment of inflammatory skin, eye and bowel diseases, allergic asthma and arthritis.
Schepens Eye Research Institute, Boston, MA 02114, USA.
PURPOSE: The authors demonstrated that in vitro-generated alpha-melanocyte stimulated hormone (MSH)-induced Treg cells specific to ocular autoantigen suppress ocular autoimmune disease in vivo when adoptively transferred. They examined the possibility of using these ocular autoantigen-specific Treg cells to promote the survival of a retinal allograft placed in the mouse vitreous. METHODS: Enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP)-C57BL/6 neonatal retinal microaggregates were injected into the vitreous of B10-RIII mice before the adoptive transfer of interphotoreceptor retinoid-binding protein (IRBP; an ocular antigen) or ovalbumin (OVA)-specific alpha-MSH-induced Treg cells. GFP transplants were imaged in vivo on days 7 and 12. In addition, on day 12, the eyes were cryosectioned and immunostained with a panel of neuronal and immune cell markers. RESULTS: GFP allografts underwent no detectable changes in size on days 7 and 12 in the B10-RIII mice injected with IRBP-specific Treg cells; however, mice that received OVA-specific Treg cells or no Treg cells experienced remarkable reductions in graft size on day 12. Only one quarter of the original size was seen. Using neuronal-specific markers, immunohistochemistry showed that the architecture of the retinal allografts in the IRBP Treg cell-injected group had intact rosettes and neuronal cells on the outermost layer, whereas the allografts in the OVA Treg cell-injected mice were disorganized. Immune cell-specific markers demonstrated that Treg cells and activated microglial cells were found in the retinal allografts of the mice injected with IRBP Treg cells, but not in the retinal allografts of the OVA Treg-injected mice. CONCLUSIONS: These results demonstrate that adoptive transfer of alpha-MSH-generated IRBP-specific Treg cells promotes retinal allograft survival and development.
PMID: 17962463 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
6: Peptides. 2007 Oct;28(10):2009-15. Epub 2007 Aug 1.
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences, McMaster University, 1200 Main Street West, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada L8N 3Z5.
Two melanocyte-stimulating hormone release inhibiting factor-1 (MIF-1) also known as L-prolyl-L-leucyl-glycinamide (PLG) peptidomimetic analogs, 3(R)-[[[2(S)-pyrrolidinyl]carbonyl]-amino]-3-(butyl)-2-oxo-1-pyrrolidineacetamide trifluoroacetate (A) and 3(R)-[[[2(S)-pyrrolidinyl]carbonyl]amino]-3-(benzyl)-2-oxo-1-pyrrolidineacetamide trifluoroacetate (B), were evaluated for their ability to modulate dopaminergic activity by measuring apomorphine-induced rotations in 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA)-lesioned rats, and haloperidol (HP)-induced vacuous chewing movements (VCMs) in rats; animal models of Parkinson's disease (PD) and human tardive dyskinesia (TD), respectively. In the 6-OHDA model, both analogs were found to potentiate the contralateral rotational behavior induced by apomorphine dose-dependently and with approximately the same potency. Furthermore, each analog was able to significantly attenuate HP-induced VCMs with almost equal efficacy. The potency and efficacy of these analogs were significantly greater than their parent compound, PLG. These results suggest that both analogs can modulate dopaminergic activity in vivo, likely by the same mechanisms recruited by PLG previously reported.
Division of Nephrology, San Francisco General Hospital, and Department of Medicine, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, California 94143, USA.
BACKGROUND: Rats with suppression of pituitary intermediate lobe (IL) function by treatment with the dopaminergic agonist bromocriptine develop salt-sensitive hypertension accompanied by a deficiency of gamma-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (gamma-MSH). METHODS: To study the time course, and establish the causal role, of gamma-MSH deficiency in the development of salt-sensitive hypertension, we instrumented 12 male Sprague-Dawley rats with radiotelemetry transmitters to record intraaortic mean arterial pressure (MAP). One week later, they were placed on a high-sodium diet (8% NaCl, HSD) and received daily intraperitoneal injections of bromocriptine (5 mg/kg). The rats were also implanted with micro-osmotic pumps to deliver either a stable analog of gamma-MSH ([Nle3, D-Phe6]-gamma-MSH, NDP-gamma-MSH) at 12 pmol/h or normal saline vehicle. RESULTS: In vehicle-treated rats on the HSD and receiving bromocriptine injections, MAP rose so that it was significantly greater than that in NDP-gamma-MSH-treated animals by Day 4, and reached a stable plateau of approximately 135 mm Hg between Days 7 and 14. After Day 14, bromocriptine injections were stopped, and MAP in vehicle-infused rats fell progressively despite continued ingestion of the HSD, so that by Day 18, MAP was no longer different from NDP-gamma-MSH-infused animals. The MAP in the latter group did not vary significantly from the control level of 101+/-4 mm Hg throughout the 21 days of the experiment. CONCLUSIONS: These results indicate that gamma-MSH deficiency is a consequence of the bromocriptine treatment responsible for the salt-sensitive hypertension, and these results also identify the time course during which this hypertension develops.
College of Pharmacy, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, USA.
The aim of this study was to examine the therapeutic efficacy of (177)Lu-DOTA-Re(Arg(11))CCMSH in the B16/F1 murine melanoma-bearing mouse model. METHODS: (177)Lu-DOTA-Re(Arg(11))CCMSH was prepared in 0.5 M NH(4)OAc at a pH of 5.4. Two (2) treatment groups of 10 melanoma-bearing C57 mice were administrated with 2 x 18.5 MBq and 1 x 37.0 MBq of (177)Lu-DOTA-Re(Arg(11))CCMSH through the tail vein, respectively. One (1) group of 10 melanoma-bearing C57 mice was injected with saline placebos as untreated melanoma-bearing controls. RESULTS: In contrast to the untreated melanoma-bearing control group, (177)Lu-DOTA-Re(Arg(11))CCMSH administration yielded rapid and lasting therapeutic effects in the treatment groups. (177)Lu-DOTA-Re(Arg(11))CCMSH treatment decreased the tumor growth rate and significantly (p > 0.05) prolonged the survival time of melanoma-bearing C57 mice. Treatment with 2 x 18.5 MBq or 1 x 37.0 MBq of (177)Lu-DOTA-Re(Arg(11))CCMSH significantly extended the mean survival of tumor-bearing mice from 13.3 to 15.1 and 16.2 days, respectively. (177)Lu-DOTA-Re(Arg(11))CCMSH treatment produced no observed acute renal toxicity. CONCLUSIONS: The therapy study results revealed that (177)Lu-DOTA-Re(Arg(11))CCMSH yielded quantitative therapeutic effects in B16/F1 melanoma-bearing mice and appeared to be a promising radiolabeled peptide for the targeted radionuclide therapy of melanoma.
Palatin Technologies, Inc., Cranbury, NJ 08512, USA. email@example.com
Melanocortinergic agents are currently being investigated for a possible therapeutic role in male and female sexual dysfunction. These investigations were sparked by findings that systemic administration of a synthetic analog of alpha-MSH, MT-II, causes penile erections in a variety of species, including humans. Several other melanocortinergic agents including HP-228, THIQ, and bremelanotide (PT-141) have since been shown to have erectogenic properties thought to be due to binding to melanocortin receptors in the central nervous system, particularly the hypothalamus. Bremelanotide, a nasally administered synthetic peptide, is the only melanocortinergic agent that has been clinically studied in both males and females. Data from Phase II clinical trials of bremelanotide support the use of melanocortin-based therapy for erectile dysfunction. Studies using animal models have demonstrated that pre-copulatory behaviors in female rats analogous to sexual arousal are evoked, and preliminary clinical data also suggest a role in promoting sexual desire and arousal in women. Based on bremelanotide clinical experience, administration of a melanocortin agonist is well tolerated and not associated the hypotension observed with phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors currently used to treat erectile dysfunction. This review discusses investigations of melanocortin agonists for the treatment of sexual dysfunction with emphasis on proposed sites and mechanisms of action in the central nervous system that appear to be involved in melanocortinergic modulation of sexual function. Current research validates use of melanocortinergic agents for the treatment of both male and female sexual dysfunction.
Department of Chemistry, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona 85721, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
The processed products of the proopiomelanocortin gene (ACTH, alpha-MSH, beta-MSH, gamma-MSH, etc.) interact with five melanocortin receptors, the MC1R, MC2R, MC3R, MC4R, and MC5R to modulate and control many important biological functions crucial for good health both peripherally (as hormones) and centrally (as neurotransmitters). Pivotal biological functions include pigmentation, adrenal function, response to stress, fear/flight, energy homeostasis, feeding behavior, sexual function and motivation, pain, immune response, and many others, and are believed to be involved in many disease states including pigmentary disorders, adrenal disorders, obesity, anorexia, prolonged and neuropathic pain, inflammatory response, etc. The melanocortin-3 receptor (MC3R) is found primarily in the brain and spinal cord and also in the periphery, and its biological functions are still not well understood. Here we review some of the biological functions attributed to the MC3R, and then examine in more detail efforts to design and synthesize ligands that are potent and selective for the MC3R, which might help resolve the many questions still remaining about its function. Though some progress has been made, there is still much to be done in this critical area.
Karolinska Institutet, Department of Molecular Medicine and Surgery, L8:00, Karolinska University Hospital, S-171 76 Stockholm, Sweden. email@example.com
Eating disorders constitute major medical health problems in the western world. Even though little is known about the molecular mechanisms behind abnormal eating behavior, it has become clear that the central nervous system (CNS), particularly the hypothalamus, plays a significant role. The anorexic anx/anx mouse is a unique model for studying food intake and energy expenditure. The anx mutation is linked to marked alterations in hypothalamic distributions of signal substances known to have potent regulatory roles in the control of food intake. Another mouse model that displays an anorectic phenotype similar to the anx/anx mouse is the Contactin KO mouse. This model displays very similar hypothalamic alterations as seen in the anx/anx mouse, arguing for a role of these specific hypothalamic changes in an anorectic phenotype. In human eating disorders, hypothalamic systems corresponding to those defective in mouse models could be compromised since autoantibodies against melanocortin peptides have been detected in anorectic and bulimic patients. These findings represent research avenues that may lead to a better understanding of eating disorders and development of targeted therapeutic approaches.
Molecular and Human Genetics Division, Indian Institute of Chemical Biology, 4 Raja S. C. Mullick Road, Jadavpur, Kolkata 700 032, India. firstname.lastname@example.org
Tyrosinase (TYR) is a multifunctional copper-containing glycoenzyme (approximately 80 kDa), which plays a key role in the rate-limiting steps of the melanin biosynthetic pathway. This membrane-bound protein, possibly evolved by the fusion of two different copper-binding proteins, is mainly expressed in epidermal, ocular and follicular melanocytes. In the melanocytes, TYR functions as an integrated unit with other TYR-related proteins (TYRP1, TYRP2), lysosome-associated membrane protein 1 (LAMP1) and melanocyte-stimulating hormone receptors; thus forming a melanogenic complex. Mutations in the TYR gene (TYR, 11q14-21, MIM 606933) cause oculocutaneous albinism type 1 (OCA1, MIM 203100), a developmental disorder having an autosomal recessive mode of inheritance. In addition, TYR can act as a modifier locus for primary congenital glaucoma (PCG) and it also contributes significantly in the eye developmental process. Expression of TYR during neuroblast division helps in later pathfinding by retinal ganglion cells from retina to the dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus. However, mutation screening of TYR is complicated by the presence of a pseudogene-TYR like segment (TYRL, 11p11.2, MIM 191270), sharing approximately 98% sequence identity with the 3' region of TYR. Thus, in absence of a full-proof strategy, any nucleotide variants identified in the 3' region of TYR could actually be present in TYRL. Interestingly, despite extensive search, the second TYR mutation in 15% of the OCA1 cases remains unidentified. Several possible locations of these "uncharacterized mutations" (UCMs) have been speculated so far. Based on the structure of TYR gene, its sequence context and some experimental evidences, we propose two additional possibilities, which on further investigations might shed light on the molecular basis of UCMs in TYR of OCA1 patients; (i) partial deletion of the exons 4 and 5 region of TYR that is homologous with TYRL and (ii) variations in the polymorphic GA complex repeat located between distal and proximal elements of the human TYR promoter that can modulate the expression of the gene leading to disease pathogenesis.
Department of Biomedical Sciences, Section of Pharmacology, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy.
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: In circulatory shock, melanocortins have life-saving effects likely to be mediated by MC4 receptors. To gain direct insight into the role of melanocortin MC4 receptors in haemorrhagic shock, we investigated the effects of two novel selective MC4 receptor agonists. EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH: Severe haemorrhagic shock was produced in rats under general anaesthesia. Rats were then treated with either the non-selective agonist [Nle4, D-Phe7]-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (NDP--MSH) or with the selective MC4 agonists RO27-3225 and PG-931. Cardiovascular and respiratory functions were continuously monitored for 2 h; survival rate was recorded up to 24 h. Free radicals in blood were measured using electron spin resonance spectrometry; tissue damage was evaluated histologically 25 min or 24 h after treatment. Key results: All shocked rats treated with saline died within 30-35 min. Treatment with NDP--MSH, RO27-3225 and PG-931 produced a dose-dependent (13-108 nmol kg-1 i.v.) restoration of cardiovascular and respiratory functions, and improved survival. The three melanocortin agonists also markedly reduced circulating free radicals relative to saline-treated shocked rats. All these effects were prevented by i.p. pretreatment with the selective MC4 receptor antagonist HS024. Moreover, treatment with RO27-3225 prevented morphological and immunocytochemical changes in heart, lung, liver, and kidney, at both early (25 min) and late (24 h) intervals. Conclusions and Implications: Stimulation of MC4 receptors reversed haemorrhagic shock, reduced multiple organ damage and improved survival. Our findings suggest that selective MC4 receptor agonists could have a protective role against multiple organ failure following circulatory shock.
Department of Dermatology, St Mary's Hospital, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, Korea.
Psychological stress is known to aggravate inflammatory skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis, psoriasis and contact sensitivity by altering the cellular constituents of the immune system. The skin appendages function dually as prominent targets and sources of the peripheral corticotropin-releasing hormone-proopiomelanocortin (CRH-POMC) axis. In this study, we examined the expression level of CRH-POMC axis constituents in psoriasis, a well-known stress-related inflammatory skin disease. The 15 psoriasis patients and six normal controls were retrospectively selected after extensive review of their clinical records and skin biopsy specimens. We immunohistochemically analysed the expressivity of CRH, adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) and alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH) in various types of psoriatic lesions and control skin. A significant increase of CRH expression was observed in psoriatic lesions, which involved the entire epidermis (upper layer in particular), hair follicles and sweat glands compared with controls. Expression of ACTH and alpha-MSH was clearly stimulated in a subset of psoriasis patients compared with controls, but on the whole, lacked statistical significance. The immunoreactivity of CRH, ACTH and alpha-MSH in psoriasis was not dependent on its clinical subtype, duration or number of previous treatments. Compared with the definite increase of CRH expression in psoriasis, the expression of the POMC peptides was heterogenous with no overall significance. From the findings, we suggest that CRH, a key stress hormone, may play an important role in the pathomechanism of psoriasis.
Department of Physiology, Marmara University, School of Medicine, 34668 Haydarpasüa, Istanbul, Turkey.
The effect of alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH) was investigated on gentamicin-induced acute renal injury in rats. Sprague-Dawley rats (200-250 g; n = 8-10) were treated with gentamicin sulphate (GEN; 80 mg kg(-1)) or saline intraperitoneally for 7 consecutive days. alpha-MSH was administered at a dose of 25 microg rat(-1) day(-1) following GEN or saline injections. On day 8, all animals were decapitated. Trunk blood and 24 h urine were collected to measure the serum creatinine levels, blood urea nitrogen (BUN) levels and to calculate the creatinine clearance values. The kidneys were excised for histological evaluation and for the measurement of malondialdehyde (MDA) levels, glutathione (GSH) contents and myeloperoxidase (MPO) activity. Treatment with alpha-MSH reduced the severity of the renal lesions microscopically, decreased MDA content and MPO activity and restored GSH in kidney samples. However, it did not restore the impaired renal function tests due to GEN challenge. In conclusion, alpha-MSH treatment has a beneficial effect on GEN-induced acute nephrotoxicity, as confirmed by histological evaluation and biochemical assays; but it does not improve GEN-induced renal dysfunction. The mechanism of the protective effect could be attributed, at least in part, to decreased tissue leukocyte infiltration and thus, to decreased oxygen-derived reactive metabolite production.
PMID: 17216604 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
16: Life Sci. 2007 Feb 20;80(11):1040-5. Epub 2006 Nov 28.
Marmara University, School of Medicine, Department of Physiology, Haydarpasa, 34668, Istanbul, Turkey.
The proopiomelanocortin-derived tridecapeptide alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH) is a neuropeptide that exerts broad anti-inflammatory actions in mammals. This study aimed to investigate the effect of alpha-MSH on ethanol-induced gastric ulcer in rats and to evaluate the involvement of endogenous somatostatin in the actions of the peptide. The rats received 1 mL 75% ethanol or saline orally. alpha-MSH was given (25 micro g/rat; i.p.) alone or following the somatostatin antagonist cyclo-(7-aminoheptanoyl-PH-E-d-Trp-Lys-THR) (10 microM/kg; i.p.) administration. Gastric lesions were scored macroscopically and microscopically following decapitation at 30 min after ethanol challenge. Gastric malondialdehyde (MDA) level, myeloperoxidase (MPO) activity and mast cell counts were assessed. Ethanol-induced gastric hemorrhagic lesions were characterized by increased gastric MDA level, MPO activity and mast cell counts. alpha-MSH treatment decreased the extent of tissue injury and reversed tissue MDA level, MPO activity and mast cell counts. The effect of the peptide on the severity of gastric lesions, MDA level and MPO activity was reversed by the somatostatin antagonist. In conclusion, alpha-MSH is beneficial in a rat model of gastric ulcer via mechanisms which partly involve the endogenous somatostatin.
Institute of Immunology, Second Military Medical University, Shanghai, People's Republic of China. email@example.com
The aim of this study was to investigate the immunomodulatory effects and mechanism of action of alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH) gene modified proteolipid protein (PLP) 139-151-specific T cells (T(PLP-alpha-MSH)) in the SJL mouse model of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). PLP139-151-specific T cells (T(PLP) cells) were transduced with a recombinant adeno-associated virus 2 (rAAV2) encoding alpha-MSH. After activation with PLP139-151 in vitro, T(PLP-alpha-MSH) cells secreted high levels of alpha-MSH and also demonstrated an altered Th1-like cytokine pattern as well as a high frequency of CD4(+)CD25(+)Treg cells. Transfer studies showed that T(PLP-alpha-MSH) cells could suppress the induction of adoptive transfer EAE. More importantly, our studies demonstrated that T(PLP-alpha-MSH) cells had preventive and therapeutic effect on active relapse-remitting EAE (REAE) in an antigen-inducible manner. Suppression of REAE by T(PLP-alpha-MSH) cells was associated with a general reduction of inflammatory central nervous system (CNS) infiltrates, a pronounced decrease in Th1 cytokines and chemokines expression and an increase in Th2 cytokines. These data strongly suggested that local delivery of alpha-MSH by rAAV2-mediated alpha-MSH-transduced PLP139-151-specific T cells (T(PLP-alpha-MSH)) would be a desirable new approach to the treatment of autoimmune disease in the CNS.
Signal Transduction Team, The Institute for Cancer Research, Cancer Research UK Centre of Cell and Molecular Biology, London, United Kingdom.
Melanocytes require the RAS/RAF/MEK/ERK and the cyclic AMP (cAMP) signaling pathways to maintain the fine balance between proliferation and differentiation. We have investigated how cross-talk between these pathways affects melanoma progression. We show that cAMP suppresses CRAF activity in melanocytes and that this is essential to suppress the oncogenic potential of CRAF in these cells. As a consequence, BRAF alone is responsible for signaling to MEK. However, when RAS is mutated in melanoma, the cells switch their signaling from BRAF to CRAF. This switch is accompanied by dysregulated cAMP signaling, a step that is necessary to allow CRAF to signal to MEK. Thus, a fundamental switch in RAF isoform usage occurs when RAS is mutated in melanoma, and this occurs in the context of disrupted cAMP signaling. These data have important implications for the development of therapeutic strategies to treat this life-threatening disease.
Department of Pediatrics, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, OR 97239-2901, USA.
Cachexia is a process that accompanies many chronic diseases, and consists of a combination of wasting of lean body mass, increased energy expenditure, and a paradoxical loss of appetite. Cachexia both worsens quality of life and negatively affects treatment of the underlying disease. Conditions as diverse as cancer, renal failure, and heart failure show a remarkable similarity in their associated cachexia, exhibiting changes in metabolism and endocrinology, including marked increases in levels of cytokines that accompany these diseases. So far, it has been difficult to treat disease-associated cachexia successfully. One treatment that has shown promise in animal trials, however, involves antagonism of the central melanocortin system, an anorexigenic pathway in the hypothalamus and brainstem. Humans who have genetic mutations involving pro-opiomelanocortin or the melanocortin 4 receptor in this pathway exhibit increased appetite and increased lean body mass. Recent research has shown that in rodent models of cancer and renal failure, administration of melanocortin 4 receptor antagonists results in an attenuation of symptoms of cachexia, including maintenance of appetite, lean body mass, and basal energy expenditure. Although this research needs to be substantiated in humans, it provides a promising direction for treating the wasting that is associated with a variety of disease states.
Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology Program, Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, 825 NE 13th Street, Oklahoma City, OK 73104, USA.
Mice lacking all pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC)-derived peptides have been created by gene targeting of the POMC locus in embryonic stem cells. Phenotypes of the POMC null homozygous mutants include obesity, pigmentation defects, and adrenal insufficiency. Here, we report that both POMC null homozygous and heterozygous mutants also develop pituitary gland tumors, which result in their premature death. The tumors occur with 100% penetrance in both POMC heterozygous and homozygous genotypes. Histological examinations reveal that tumors start from hyperplastic focal points of melanotrophic cells within the intermediate lobe. Based on the morphological and immunohistological features, we have classified the tumors as non-invasive, non-secreting, intermediate lobe adenomas. These findings uncover potential novel roles of melanocortins in the regulation of cell proliferation.
PMID: 16914086 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
21: C R Biol. 2006 Aug;329(8):608-22; discussion 653-5. Epub 2006 May 15.
We present the knowledge acquired in the field of the genetics of human obesity. The molecular approach proved to be powerful to define new syndromes associated to obesity. The pivotal role of leptin and melanocortin pathways were recognized but in rare obesity cases. In the commoner form of obesities, a multitude of polymorphisms located in genes and candidate regions participate in an individual susceptibility to weight gain in a permissive environment. The effects are often uncertain and the results not always confirmed. It is now necessary to integrate data of various origins (environment, genotype, expression) to clarify the domain.
Unidad de Endocrinologa, Hospital Escuela, Facultad de Ciencias Veterinarias, Universidad de Buenos Aires, 1428 Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Cushing's disease is almost always caused by an ACTH-secreting pituitary tumor, but effective medical therapy is currently limited. Because retinoic acid has been shown to be potentially useful in decreasing corticotroph secretion and proliferation in rodent models, we have studied its action in dogs with Cushing's disease. A randomized treatment with retinoic acid (n = 22) vs. ketoconazole (n = 20) in dogs with Cushing's disease was assigned for a period of 180 d. Clinical signs, plasma ACTH and alpha-MSH, the cortisol/creatinine urine ratio, and pituitary magnetic resonance imaging were assessed and compared at different time points. We recorded a significant reduction in plasma ACTH and alpha-MSH, and also in the cortisol/creatinine urine ratio, of the dogs treated with retinoic acid. Pituitary adenoma size was also significantly reduced at the end of retinoic acid treatment. Survival time and all the clinical signs evaluated showed an improvement in the retinoic-acid-treated dogs. No adverse events or signs of hepatotoxicity were observed, suggesting that the drug is not only effective but also safe. Retinoic acid treatment controls ACTH and cortisol hyperactivity and tumor size in dogs with ACTH-secreting tumors, leading to resolution of the clinical phenotype. This study highlights the possibility of using retinoic acid as a novel therapy in the treatment of ACTH-secreting tumors in humans with Cushing's disease.
Department of Dermatology, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, 231 Albert Sabin Way, Cincinnati, Ohio 45267-0592, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, with no cure for advanced disease. We propose a strategy for melanoma prevention based on using analogs of alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH) that function as melanocortin 1 receptor (MC1R) agonists. Treatment of human melanocytes with alpha-MSH results in stimulation of eumelanin synthesis, reduction of apoptosis that is attributable to reduced hydrogen peroxide generation and enhanced repair of DNA photoproducts. These effects should contribute to genomic stability of human melanocytes, thus preventing their malignant transformation to melanoma. Based on these findings, we synthesized and tested the effects of 3 tetrapeptide alpha-MSH analogs, Ac-His-D-Phe-Arg-Trp-NH2, n-Pentadecanoyl- and 4-Phenylbutyryl-His-D-Phe-Arg-Trp-NH2, on cultured human melanocytes. The latter two analogs were more potent than the former, or alpha-MSH, in stimulating the activity of tyrosinase, thus melanogenesis, reducing apoptosis and release of hydrogen peroxide and enhancing repair of DNA photoproducts in melanocytes exposed to UV radiation (UVR). The above analogs are MC1R agonists, as their effects were abrogated by an analog of agouti signaling protein, the physiological MC1R antagonist, and were absent in melanocytes expressing loss-of-function MC1R. Analogs, such as 4-Phenylbutyryl-His-D-Phe-Arg-Trp-NH2 with prolonged and reversible effects, can potentially be developed into topical agents to prevent skin photocarcinogenesis, particularly melanoma.
Laboratorio de Ciencias Fisiolgicas, Departamento de Farmacologa, Facultad de Ciencias Mdicas, Universidad Nacional de Crdoba, Argentina.
We studied the effect of alpha-melanotropin hormone (alpha-MSH) on experimental autoimmune oophoritis (EAO), an inflammatory process induced in female rats. During proestrus, serum levels of LH and progesterone in rats with EAO were higher than those of control rats. However, administration of alpha-MSH to these rats decreased the levels of LH. Similarly, in the following diestrus, rats with EAO had high levels of LH but treatment with alpha-MSH decreased the levels to diestrus 2 control values. Treatment with alpha-MSH also reduced the LH levels of control rats in diestrus 2 compared to untreated controls. However, alpha-MSH treatment had no effect on progesterone levels of either control or rats with EAO. Thus, although alpha-MSH induced notable changes in levels of LH, this decrease was unable to block the illness.
Department of Dermatology, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, Colney Lane, Norwich, UK. email@example.com
The precursor protein proopiomelanocortin (POMC) produces many biologically active peptides via a series of enzymatic steps in a tissue-specific manner, yielding the melanocyte-stimulating hormones (MSHs), corticotrophin (ACTH) and beta-endorphin. The gene for alpha-MSH is encoded for by the POMC gene, but alpha-MSH cannot be produced from POMC gene transcription and translation without these specific post-translational proteolytic steps taking place. The MSHs and ACTH bind to the extracellular G-protein-coupled melanocortin receptors (MCR), of which there are five subtypes. Two (MC1R and MC5R) show widespread cutaneous expression. ACTH and alpha-MSH bind to MC1R to influence both pigmentation and the immune system. MC5R regulates the sebaceous glands. Mutations in the MC1R gene lead to fair skin and red hair in humans, which is also seen with inactivating human POMC gene mutations. MC1R mutant receptor expression can also correlate with an increased incidence of the three commonest forms of skin cancer. Other mutations can occur in the POMC system or parallel interacting pathways, such as in prohormone convertase 1 and agouti signalling protein, a human homologue of murine agouti protein. However, they do not necessarily affect skin colour or function in humans, and further studies are needed to clarify these observations.
Institute of Nuclear Medicine, Wagner-Jauregg Hospital, Wagner-Jauregg Weg 15, A-4021 Linz, Austria. Robert.Pichler@gespag.at
Vitiligo is a depigmenting disorder characterized by the development of white patches with evidence in favour of an autoimmune mechanism. We investigated the role of melanotropins and the plasma levels of alpha-melanotropin and ACTH-like immunoreactivities in 40 vitiligo patients with the aim of detecting a possible influence of neuropeptide regulation of immunity. Twenty-one patients had active and 19 had stable vitiligo disease, 16 persons presented with an additional autoimmune thyroid disease. Median alpha-MSH levels in vitiligo patients were 6.4p mol/l [5.2;11.3] and significantly lower than in control persons with 11.4 pmol/l [8.6;13.4]. Median ACTH levels of the affected patient group were 17 pg/ml [10.5;28] and appeared statistically higher than 12 pg/ml [7;17] measured in the control group. Measured morning cortisol levels in both groups were not significantly different. Reduced cutaneous alpha-MSH immunoreactivities have been related to the development of autoimmune-induced depigmenting disorders. Our data present lower alpha-MSH plasma levels in vitiligo patients which may be associated with the development of vitiligo depigmentation and may indicate a condition of impaired peripheral tolerance in this autoimmune disorder.
Vitiligo & Pigmentation Institute of Southern California, Division of Dermatology, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA.
This article focuses on developments in pigmentary disorders that extend dermatologists' understanding of the field. Areas that are reviewed include the basic biochemistry, pharmacology, and physiology of the melanocortin system; melanosome development; genetic diseases associated with pigmentary disorders; pigmentary disorders secondary to systemic disease; drug-induced hyperpigmentation; environmental exposure to chemicals; and primary disorders of hyperpigmentation such as melasma and lentigines. Basic, clinical, and epidemiological research, along with a number of clinical case reports, were included in the review. This article also reports on the new health-related quality-of-life instrument (MELASQOL) that has been developed for women with melasma.
Department of Molecular Animal Physiology, Nijmegen Center for Molecular Life Sciences, NCMLS, and Institute for Neuroscience, Radboud University Nijmegen, Geert Grooteplein Zuid 28, 6525 GA Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
The amyloid-beta precursor protein APP is generally accepted to be involved in the pathology of Alzheimer's disease. Since its physiological role is still unclear, we decided to study the function of APP via stable transgenesis in the amphibian Xenopus laevis. However, the application of constructs encoding (mutant) APP fused to the C-terminus of the green fluorescent protein GFP (GFP-APP), and harboring a tissue-specific or an inducible gene promoter did not result in transgene expression of APP in neuronal and neuroendocrine cells. Surprisingly, a construct encoding either Xenopus or human APP fused to the N-terminus of GFP (APP-GFP) gave fluorescence throughout the whole brain of the tadpole, despite the fact that a proopiomelanocortin gene promoter was used to target transgene expression specifically to the intermediate pituitary cells. Detailed analysis with deletion mutants revealed the presence of a neural-specific, transcriptionally active DNA element within the 3'-end of the APP-coding sequence that gave rise to an aberrant transcript and protein in the APP-GFP transgenic animals. The DNA element appears to prevent proper APP transgene expression in Xenopus neuronal and neuroendocrine cells. Thus, the coding sequences of Xenopus and human APP contain a neural-specific promoter element, the physiological significance of which is at present unclear.
Department of Medicine B, University of Mnster, Albert-Schweitzer-Str 33, D-48129 Mnster, Germany. firstname.lastname@example.org
BACKGROUND AND AIMS: alpha-Melanocyte stimulating hormone (alpha MSH) is known to exert anti-inflammatory effects, for example in murine DSS (dextran sodium sulphate induced) colitis. The anti-inflammatory functions of alpha MSH are mediated by the melanocortin1-receptor (MC1R) in an autoregulatory loop. The aim of this study was therefore to determine whether a breakdown of the alpha MSH-MC1R pathway leads to worsening of disease. METHODS: Experimental colitis was induced in mice with a frameshift mutation in the MC1R gene (MC1Re/e), C57BL/6 wild type mice, and MC1Re/e-C57BL/6 bone marrow chimeras. The course of inflammation was monitored by weight loss, histological changes in the colon, and myeloperoxidase activity. In addition, MC1R expression was analysed in intestinal epithelial cells. RESULTS: While the colon of untreated MC1Re/e appeared normal, the course of DSS-colitis in MC1Re/e mice was dramatically aggravated, with a significantly higher weight loss and marked histological changes compared to C57BL/6WT. The inflammation eventually led to death in all MC1Re/e, while all C57BL/6WT survived. Similar observations were detected in a transmissible murine colitis model induced by Citrobacter rodentium. Infected MC1Re/e showed delayed clearance of infection. To determine whether missing haematopoietic cell expressed MC1R was responsible, DSS colitis was induced in MC1Re/e-C57BL/6 bone marrow chimeras. MC1Re/e mice receiving MC1R+ bone marrow showed a similar course of inflammation to non-transplanted MC1Re/e. Likewise, transplantation of MC1R bone marrow into C57BL/6WT mice did not lead to any worsening of disease. CONCLUSIONS: This is the first study to show a functional role of MC1R in intestinal inflammation. The data suggest a pivotal role of non-haematopoietic cell expressed MC1R in the host's response to pathogenic stimuli.
Department of Pediatrics, Oregon Health and Science University, 3181 SW Sam Jackson Park Road, Portland, OR 97239, USA. email@example.com
Leptin is an adipocyte-derived hormone that acts as a major regulator of food intake and energy homeostasis. It circulates both as a free and as a protein-bound entity. Leptin is released into the blood in proportion to the amount of body fat and exerts sustained inhibitory effects on food intake while increasing energy expenditure. The leptin receptor belongs to the class I cytokine receptor superfamily and possesses strong homology to the signal-transducing subunits of the IL-6 receptor. The hypothalamic melanocortin system, and specifically the melanocortin-4 receptor (MC-4R), is critical in mediating leptin's effect on appetite and metabolism. Serum leptin concentrations are elevated in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and correlate with C-reactive protein levels suggesting that inflammation is an important factor that contributes to hyperleptinemia in CKD. Hyperleptinemia may be important in the pathogenesis of inflammation-associated cachexia in CKD. We showed that experimental uremic cachexia was attenuated in db/db mice, a model of leptin receptor deficiency. Nephrectomy in these animals did not result in any change in weight gain, body composition, resting metabolic rate, and efficiency of food consumption. Furthermore, experimental uremic cachexia could be ameliorated by blocking leptin signaling through the hypothalamic MC-4R. MC-4R knockout mice or mice administered the MC-4R and MC-3R antagonist, agouti-related peptide, resisted uremia-induced loss of lean body mass and maintained normal basal metabolic rates. Thus, melanocortin receptor antagonism may provide a novel therapeutic strategy for inflammation-associated cachexia in CKD.
Diabetes Center and Department of Medicine, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, California 94143-0573, USA.
CONTEXT: Heterozygous mutations in the melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R) gene are the most common monogenic form of severe obesity in children. There are conflicting reports regarding the prevalence, nature, and pathogenic effects of MC4R mutations in adults with severe late-onset obesity. OBJECTIVE: Our objective was to determine the prevalence of MC4R mutations in a cohort of severely obese adults and to determine the clinical phenotype and the phenotype-genotype relationship within adult MC4R mutation carriers. DESIGN AND SETTING: We conducted an observational study at a referral center. PATIENTS OR OTHER PARTICIPANTS: Participants included 769 adult patients with body mass index of at least 35 kg/m(2) and 444 nonobese control individuals. INTERVENTIONS: There were no interventions. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: We assessed the prevalence of pathogenic MC4R mutations, functional characteristics of the detected mutations, phenotype, and phenotype-genotype relationship within mutation carriers. RESULTS: The global prevalence of obesity-specific MC4R mutations was 2.6%, and the 95% confidence interval (CI(95)) was 1.5-3.7. The prevalence of MC4R mutations was similar in patients developing obesity in childhood (2.83%; CI(95), 0.9-4.8) and in patients with a later onset of the disease (2.35%; CI(95), 0.9-3.8). Adult obese MC4R mutation carriers did not present with binge eating or with any specific clinical phenotype. The severity of the functional alterations of the mutated MC4Rs and in particular the intracellular retention of the receptor correlates both with the severity and the onset of the obesity in the mutation carriers. CONCLUSIONS: Obese adult carriers of functionally relevant MC4R mutations do not specifically present with binge-eating disorder or a history of early-onset obesity. The onset and severity of the obesity in the carriers is related to the functional severity of the MC4R mutations.
Laboratory of Immunology, Centre for DNA Fingerprinting & Diagnostics, Nacharam, Hyderabad, India. firstname.lastname@example.org
Considering the role of interleukin-8 (IL-8) in a large number of acute and chronic inflammatory diseases, the regulation of IL-8-mediated biological responses is important. Alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH), a tridecapeptide, inhibits most forms of inflammation by an unknown mechanism. In the present study, we have found that alpha-MSH interacts predominantly with melanocortin-1 receptors and inhibits several IL-8-induced biological responses in macrophages and neutrophils. It down-regulated receptors for IL-8 but not for TNF, IL-4, IL-13 or TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) in neutrophils. It down-regulated CXCR type 1 and 2 but not mRNA levels. alpha-MSH did not inhibit IL-8 binding in purified cell membrane or affinity-purified CXCR. IL-8 or anti-CXCR Ab protected against alpha-MSH-mediated inhibition of IL-8 binding. The level of neutrophil elastase, a specific serine protease, but not cathepsin G or proteinase 3 increased in alpha-MSH-treated cells, and restoration of CXCR by specific neutrophil elastase or serine protease inhibitors indicates the involvement of elastase in alpha-MSH-induced down-regulation of CXCR. These studies suggest that alpha-MSH inhibits IL-8-mediated biological responses by down-regulating CXCR through induction of serine protease and that alpha-MSH acts as a potent immunomodulator in neutrophil-driven inflammatory distress.
Centre for Biochemical Pharmacology and Experimental Pathology, The William Harvey Research Institute, Bart's and the London SMD, Charterhouse Square, London EC1M 6BQ, UK. S.J.Getting@qmul.ac.uk
The clinically efficacious melanocortin peptide HP228 has here been investigated for its anti-inflammatory efficacy. In this study we have investigated the efficacy of HP228 in murine acute models of inflammation and myocardial ischaemia. Systemic treatment of mice with HP228 inhibited neutrophil accumulation in zymosan; urate crystal and carrageenan induced inflammatory models. In the urate model this was due to inhibition of pro-inflammatory chemokines and cytokines, whilst different mechanisms exist for zymosan peritonitis and carrageenan-induced air-pouch inflammation. HP228 was next evaluated in a model of myocardial ischaemia, another condition where cytokines and neutrophils are thought to play a causal role. HP228 caused a 50% reduction in myocardial damage following reperfusion. HP228 therefore inhibits the most important facet of the host inflammatory response namely leukocyte migration. These data show for the first time that the clinically efficacious peptide HP228 displays protective effects in models of inflammation and organ damage.
Division of Experimental Geriatrics, Neurotec Department, Karolinska Institutet, Karolinska University Hospital, Novum, KFC, Level 4, SE-141 86 Stockholm, Sweden. email@example.com
The aim of the study was to investigate the effects of alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH), a tridecapeptide derived from proopiomelanocortin (POMC), on the neurodegeneration following global cerebral ischemia and reperfusion in the rat. The biological activities of alpha-MSH include inhibition of inflammatory responses and anti-pyretic effects. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were subjected to four-vessel occlusion (4-VO) global cerebral ischemia followed by reperfusion, and treated with alpha-MSH (intraperitoneally, i.p.) at 30 min, and 24, 48, 72 and 96 h post-ischemia. Stereological quantification of the pyramidal cells in the CA1 area of the hippocampus showed that the number of viable neurons in ischemic rats was 96,945+/-18,610 (means+/-SD) as compared to 183,156+/-49,935 in sham-operated rats (P<0.05). The number of viable neurons after treatment of ischemic rats with alpha-MSH was 162,829+/-34,757, i.e. significantly different from the number of viable neurons in ischemic rats injected with saline (P<0.01). Astrocyte proliferation due to the ischemic insult was markedly reduced by the treatment with alpha-MSH, and the loss in body weight was reduced by alpha-MSH. In conclusion, post-ischemic administration of alpha-MSH was found to provide neuroprotection in the CA1 pyramidal cell layer in the hippocampus, concomitant with a reduction in glial activation, indicating that alpha-MSH or mimetics thereof may have a potential in the treatment of stroke or other neurodegenerative diseases. Further studies will be required to define the post-ischemic time window for administration of alpha-MSH.
Department of Biomedical Sciences, Atlantic Veterinary College, University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, PE C1A 4P3, Canada.
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate concordance among veterinary pathologists in the assessment of histologic findings in the pars intermedia of pituitary gland sections from aged horses with mild signs suggestive of pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (PPID). Sample Population-10 pituitary glands from aged horses. PROCEDURE: 7 pathologists were provided with signalment, clinical signs, and a single H&E-stained pituitary gland section from 10 aged horses with mild signs suggestive of PPID. Pathologists described histologic findings for each section and stated whether findings were consistent with PPID. Agreement among pathologists and with antemortem diagnostic test results was calculated. RESULTS: Overall, only fair agreement was found among the pathologists as to which horses had histologic findings consistent with disease (mean +/- SE kappa value, 0.34 +/- 0.069). Interpretation of individual sections varied, with minimal agreement (4 or 5/7 pathologists) for 5 of 10 sections evaluated. Postmortem assessment was in agreement with an antemortem endocrine diagnostic test result 79% of the time. CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Validation of antemortem diagnostic testing for PPID in horses often relies on the results of postmortem histologic evaluation. The lack of consensus in histologic interpretation of pituitary glands from aged horses with mild clinical signs in our study indicates that postmortem histologic evaluation of pituitary glands is an inappropriate standard in validation of antemortem diagnostic tests for detection of early PPID. Caution should be used when interpreting diagnostic test results in horses in which early PPID is suspected.
Karolinska Institutet, Neurotec Department, Division of Experimental Geriatrics, Karolinska University Hospital Huddinge, Novum, SE-141 86 Stockholm, Sweden.
Senile plaques in the Alzheimer's disease (AD) are formed by aggregation of beta-amyloid (Abeta) peptide. Abeta peptide has been shown to activate microglia and stimulate their production of inflammatory factors, such as cytokines. In the AD brain, the continued presence of amyloid plaques may keep microglia persistently activated, leading to chronic inflammation in the CNS. It is well established that alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH) gives rise to anti-inflammatory and anti-pyretic effects. The biological activities of alpha-MSH are mediated by one or more of the melanocortin receptor (MCR) subtypes, i.e. MCR1 - MCR5. The aim of the present study was to determine the effect of alpha-MSH alone and on Abeta-activated microglial cells with regard to the secretion of inflammatory cytokines, such as interleukin-6 (IL-6), and to determine which receptor subtype mediates the effects of alpha-MSH. The human microglial cell line, CHME3, was incubated for 24 h with freshly dissolved Abeta(1-40), interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) and/or alpha-MSH. Freshly dissolved Abeta(1-40) (5-60 microM) resulted in a dose-dependent decrease in cell viability, along with a dose-dependent increase in IL-6 release. Neither IFN-gamma nor alpha-MSH affected the Abeta-induced secretion of IL-6, but resulted in a dose-dependent increase in basal IL-6 release. Agouti, the endogenous antagonist of MCR1 and 4, further increased the alpha-MSH-induced secretion of IL-6. RT-PCR showed the expression of MCR1, MCR3, MCR4 and MCR5 mRNA. The combined data suggest that the effect of alpha-MSH in increasing IL-6 release from the human microglial cell line is mediated by MCR3 or MCR5.
Department of Biomedical Sciences, Section of Pharmacology, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, via G. Campi 287, 41100 Modena, Italy.
Ischemic stroke is one of the main causes of death and disability. We investigated whether melanocortin peptides, which have protective effects in severe hypoxic conditions, also produce neuroprotection in a gerbil model of ischemic stroke. A 10-min period of global cerebral ischemia, induced by occluding both common carotid arteries, caused impairment in spatial learning and memory that was associated with activation of inflammatory and apoptotic pathways, including severe DNA damage and delayed neuronal death, in the hippocampus. Treatment with nanomolar doses of the melanocortin analog [Nle4, D-Phe7] alpha-MSH [which activates the melanocortin receptor subtypes (MC) mainly expressed in central nervous system, namely MC3 and MC4] modulated the inflammatory and apoptotic cascades and reduced hippocampus injuries even when delayed up to 9 h after ischemia, with consequent dose-dependent improvement in subsequent functional recovery. The selective MC3 receptor agonist gamma2-MSH had no protective effects. Pharmacological blockade of MC4 receptors prevented the neuroprotective effects of [Nle4, D-Phe7] alpha-MSH and worsened some ischemia outcomes. Together, our findings suggest that MC4 receptor-stimulating melanocortins might provide potential to develop a class of drugs with a broad treatment window for a novel approach to neuroprotection in ischemic stroke.
Faculty of Medicine, University of Latvia, Sarlotes St. 1a, Riga, LV-1001, Latvia. firstname.lastname@example.org
The anti-inflammatory effects of melanocortin peptides have been demonstrated in different inflammation models. This is the first report describing the molecular mechanisms for the beta-MSH-induced suppression of bacterial lipopolisaccharide (LPS)-caused brain inflammation. We found that beta-MSH suppresses LPS-induced nuclear translocation of the transcription factor NF-kappaB, and inhibits the expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase, and the following nitric oxide overproduction in the brain, in vivo. Moreover, administering the preferentially MC(4) receptor selective antagonist HS014 blocked completely these effects, suggesting a tentative MC(4) receptor mediated mechanism of action for the beta-MSH. However, as HS014 shows quite low selectivity vis--vis the MC(3) receptor, a role for the MC(3) receptor cannot be excluded. In conclusion, our results show that beta-MSH is capable of inhibiting brain inflammation via activation of melanocortin receptors, of the subtypes 4 and/or 3.
University Departments of Medicine and Clinical Biochemistry, Box 232, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge CB2 2QQ, UK. email@example.com
Genetic factors are involved in the regulation of body weight and in determining individual responses to environmental factors such as diet and exercise. The identification and characterization of monogenic obesity syndromes have led to an improved understanding of the precise nature of the inherited component of severe obesity and has had undoubted medical benefits, whilst helping to dispel the notion that obesity represents an individual defect in behaviour with no biological basis. For individuals at highest risk of the complications of severe obesity, such findings provide a starting point for providing more rational mechanism-based therapies, as has successfully been achieved for one disorder, congenital leptin deficiency.
Atlantic Veterinary College, Department of Biomedical Sciences, 550 University Ave, Charlottetown, PE, Canada C1A 4P3. firstname.lastname@example.org
Thyrotropin releasing hormone (TRH) stimulates an increase in plasma cortisol in horses with pars intermedia dysfunction (PPID, Cushing's disease). A similar phenomenon is observed in humans with Cushing's disease or Nelson's syndrome. The mechanism of the response in humans is not known, but an alteration in receptor expression, selectivity or responsiveness in abnormal corticotropes has been proposed. Horses with PPID, unlike humans, almost exclusively have adenomas of pars intermedia (PI) rather than pars distalis (PD) origin. Therefore, the mechanism responsible for the TRH response observed in horses likely differs. We proposed that TRH directly stimulates the PI in normal and PPID-affected horses to release proopiomelanocortin (POMC) derived peptides. Using alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH) as a marker of a PI response and ACTH as a marker of a PD response, we were able to demonstrate a marked increase in plasma concentration of alpha-MSH and a modest, but significant increase in ACTH after TRH treatment in normal horses. The ability of TRH to directly stimulate release of POMC peptides was confirmed using PI and PD tissue explants. The presence of TRH receptor mRNA in PI tissue from both normal and PPID horses was confirmed using reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction. We conclude that TRH triggers the release of POMC-derived peptides from the PI through the direct stimulation of TRH receptors normally expressed on melanotropes. The increase in plasma cortisol following TRH in horses with PPID is likely attributable to the release of ACTH from the hyperplastic PI.
School of Electrical, Electronic, and Computer Engineering, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Newcastle upon Tyne NE7 6RU, United Kingdom.
Cell differentiation, proliferation, apoptosis, and cell motility are induced and regulated by a host of growth factors, vitamins, and hormones. The mode of function of these modifiers of biological response, the signaling pathways that they activate, and the interacting pathways that can influence the biological outcome have been the focus of attention. Especially recognized and discussed in this review is the deregulation of their function, leading to abnormalities in cell proliferation, alteration of intercellular adhesive cohesion, remodeling of the extracellular matrix, and invasive behavior and metastatic deposition that are so characteristic of tumor development and progression, which strongly underscores the concept of molecular progression of cancer constructed on the basis of the relationship between genetic changes and the biological events associated with cancer progression. The molecular changes associated with hormone- and vitamin-driven responses and the deregulation of the expression and function of their target genes seem to correlate with specific biological events linked with cancer invasion and progression, and these findings could lead to the establishment of new markers of progression and to the development of new strategies for patient management. The scope of this work has been restricted by design and is dictated by the field of interest of the author's laboratory, but it is hoped that this field would be regarded adequately to reflect the wide genre of scientific interest in this field of human disease.
Department of Molecular Animal Physiology, Nijmegen Center for Molecular Life Sciences and Institute for Neuroscience, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
The amyloid-beta precursor protein (APP) is linked to Alzheimer's disease through its pathological proteolytic processing in the secretory pathway. Nevertheless, surprisingly little is known about the biosynthesis of endogenous APP. We therefore decided to investigate the intracellular fate of newly synthesized APP in a physiologically inducible neuroendocrine cell, the Xenopus intermediate pituitary melanotrope cell. We found that the level of both APP mRNA and protein was about threefold induced in the activated cells of black-adapted animals. Intriguingly, two pools of APP were found, only one of which was up-regulated. This induced pool became readily N- and subsequently O-glycosylated and was eventually proteolytically processed by an alpha-secretase-like cleavage event resulting in a secreted N-terminal and a cell-associated C-terminal APP fragment. Conversely, only the other (non-induced, non-glycosylated and uncleaved) pool became phosphorylated. Thus, we report on the biosynthesis of APP in a physiological context and illuminate the occurrence of two pools of APP, one of which is linked to neuroendocrine cell activation.
Department of Biochemistry, University of Missouri-Columbia, Columbia, Missouri 65211, USA.
PURPOSE: The therapeutic efficacy of a unique melanoma-targeting peptide conjugated with an in vivo generated alpha-particle-emitting radionuclide was evaluated in the B16/F1 mouse melanoma animal model. alpha-Radiation is densely ionizing, resulting in high concentrations of destructive radicals and irreparable DNA double-strand breaks. This high linear energy transfer overcomes radiation-resistant tumor cells and oxygen effects resulting in potentially high therapeutic indices in tumors such as melanoma.EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: The melanoma targeting peptide, 1,4,7,10-tetraazacyclodecane-1,4,7,10-tetraacetic acid (DOTA)-Re(Arg(11))CCMSH, was radiolabeled with (212)Pb, the parent of (212)Bi, which decays via alpha and beta decay. Biodistribution and therapy studies were done in the B16/F1 melanoma-bearing C57 mouse flank tumor model.RESULTS: (212)Pb[DOTA]-Re(Arg(11))CCMSH exhibited rapid tumor uptake and extended retention coupled with rapid whole body disappearance. Radiation dose delivered to the tumor was estimated to be 61 cGy/muCi (212)Pb administered. Treatment of melanoma-bearing mice with 50, 100, and 200 muCi of (212)Pb[DOTA]-Re(Arg(11))CCMSH extended their mean survival to 22, 28, and 49.8 days, respectively, compared with the 14.6-day mean survival of the placebo control group. Forty-five percent of the mice receiving 200 muCi doses survived the study disease-free.CONCLUSIONS: Treatment of B16/F1 murine melanoma-bearing mice with (212)Pb[DOTA]-Re(Arg(11))CCMSH significantly decreased tumor growth rates resulting in extended mean survival times, and in many cases, complete remission of disease. (212)Pb-DOTA-Re(Arg(11))CCMSH seems to be a very promising radiopharmaceutical for targeted radionuclide therapy of melanoma.
INSERM U597, Biologie et physiopathologie des cellules mlanocytaires, Faculty of Medicine, 06107 Nice cedex 2, France. email@example.com
In melanocytes and melanoma cells alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH), via the cAMP pathway, elicits a large array of biological responses that control melanocyte differentiation and influence melanoma development or susceptibility. In this work, we show that cAMP transcriptionally activates Hif1a gene in a melanocyte cell-specific manner and increases the expression of a functional hypoxia-inducible factor 1alpha (HIF1alpha) protein resulting in a stimulation of Vegf expression. Interestingly, we report that the melanocyte-specific transcription factor, microphthalmia-associated transcription factor (MITF), binds to the Hif1a promoter and strongly stimulates its transcriptional activity. Further, MITF "silencing" abrogates the cAMP effect on Hif1a expression, and overexpression of MITF in human melanoma cells is sufficient to stimulate HIF1A mRNA. Our data demonstrate that Hif1a is a new MITF target gene and that MITF mediates the cAMP stimulation of Hif1a in melanocytes and melanoma cells. Importantly, we provide results demonstrating that HIF1 plays a pro-survival role in this cell system. We therefore conclude that the alpha-MSH/cAMP pathway, using MITF as a signal transducer and HIF1alpha as a target, might contribute to melanoma progression.
Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Nagpur University Campus, Nagpur-440 033, India.
Neuropeptide Y (NPY) and alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH) have been implicated in pathophysiology of feeding and certain mood disorders, including anxiety and depression. Both the peptides are abundantly present in CNS, especially in the hypothalamus and amygdala. Although they are known to exert opposite effects, particularly with reference to anxiety, the underlying mechanisms are not known. We were interested in studying the interaction between these two peptides in the regulation of anxiety, within the framework of amygdala. We administered agents like NPY, alpha-MSH, selective melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4-R) antagonist HS014 and NPY Y1 receptor agonist [Leu(31), Pro(34)]-NPY, alone and in combinations, unilaterally in right amygdala of rats and measured the response using elevated plus maze test. While NPY and [Leu(31), Pro(34)]-NPY increased the time spent and number of entries in the open arms suggesting anxiolytic-like effects, alpha-MSH resulted in opposite responses. Anxiolytic-like effect of NPY (10 nM) or [Leu(31), Pro(34)]-NPY (5 nM) was significantly reduced following prior alpha-MSH (250 ng) administration. Co-administration of HS014 (1 nM) and NPY (5 nM) or [Leu(31), Pro(34)]-NPY (1 nM) at subeffective doses evoked synergistic anxiolysis. Since the closed arm entries displayed by animals of all the groups were in a similar range, the effects might not be ascribed to the changes in general locomotor activity. These results suggest that endogenous alpha-MSH and NPY containing systems may interact in the amygdala and regulate exploratory behavior in an animal model of anxiety.
Department of Psychology, Behavioral Neuroscience Program, State University of New York at Binghamton, Vestal Parkway East, Binghamton, NY 13902-6000, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
Pro-inflammatory cytokines and other molecules traditionally associated with immune function have been implicated in mediating behavioral and physiological consequences of stressor exposure. There is also evidence that cytokines are aberrantly expressed in depressive populations, suggesting they may play an etiological role in the development of depression/despair-related processes. Thus, we conducted a series of experiments to determine whether agents known to suppress cytokine activity or inflammatory responses in the CNS would alter the normal progression of behavioral responses during the forced swim test (FST, an animal model of depression/behavioral despair). Adult male Sprague-Dawley rats were injected with indomethacin (1 or 10 mg/kg intraperitoneally (i.p.)), alpha-MSH (0.25 or 0.5 microg icv), or minocycline (20 or 40 mg/kg i.p.) prior to each day of the FST and behavioral assessments were performed. Injection of indomethacin, alpha-MSH, or minocycline had no effect on the development of the immobility response during the FST on either day of testing. In a second series of experiments, we examined whether behavioral responses during forced swim would be affected by acute illness induced by a single injection of lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Acute injection of LPS (10 or 100 microg/kg i.p.) had no effect on behavioral responding during the FST irrespective of when it was injected, despite pronounced reductions in social behavior following these same doses of LPS. From these studies, we conclude that (a) endogenous inflammatory mediators do not appear to be involved in the normal progression of behavioral responses during the FST, and (b) behavioral responses during the FST are not affected by acute systemic injection of LPS.
Neuroendocrine Laboratory, Department of Pharmacology, The University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010, Australia.
Hypothalamic melanocortins are critical for the control of food intake, and alterations in POMC mRNA have been described in genetic models of obesity. However, the time course of changes in brain transmitters over the development of dietary obesity is less clear. Therefore, we examined the effect of diet-induced obesity on hypothalamic alpha-MSH content and feeding responsiveness to synthetic melanocortins. Male Sprague-Dawley rats fed a high-fat cafeteria diet (30% fat) or chow (5% fat) for 4 or 12 weeks were implanted with intracerebroventricular cannulae and feeding responses to the MC3/4R agonist MTII (0.5 nmol) and the selective MC4R antagonist HS014 (0.8 nmol) were determined. MTII had a long-lasting inhibitory effect on food intake. Chronically overfed animals had a significantly exaggerated inhibitory feeding response 15 and 24 h after MTII injection and lost more body weight (15 +/- 3 g) compared to control rats (4 +/- 4 g; P < 0.05). Daytime administration of HS014 significantly increased food intake in all rats to the same extent (P < 0.05). No change in hypothalamic alpha-MSH content was observed after 2 or 12 weeks of high-fat diet. The observation of increased responsiveness to the melanocortin agonist, in the face of a high-fat diet, suggests melanocortin analogues may have potential for the pharmacological treatment of obesity.
Zak¸adu Histologii i Embriologii Slaskiej AM w Katowicach.
Anorexia nervosa is a complex disease characterized by abnormal feeding behaviour, food aversion and acute disturbances in perception of the body shape. Every eating disorder comes about as a consequence of disturbances in synaptic transmission in particular brain regions (hypothalamus, limbic system, cortical centres). The human and animal feeding physiology is precisely regulated by autonomic nuclei of hypothalamus. The perikarya of arcuate nucleus, lateral hypothalamic nuclei and other areas produce and release both the orexigenic (e.g. NPY) and anorexigenic (e.g. a-MSH) signalling substances. The novel hypothalamic and peripheral neurohormones: orexins and ghrelin as well as serotonin and dopamine seem to play a significant role in pathogenesis of eating disorders. In anorexia nervosa simultaneous excess of orexigenic and anorexigenic factors may evoke a "mixed signal" leading to failure of hypothalamic regulatory pathways. Experimental results also suggest that women with anorexia nervosa have disturbances of regional cerebral blood flow.
Department of Biomedical Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853-6401, USA.
Mice with a single copy of the retinoblastoma gene (Rb(+/-)) develop a syndrome of multiple neuroendocrine neoplasia. They usually succumb to fast-growing, Rb-deficient melanotroph tumors of the pituitary intermediate lobe, which are extremely rare in humans. Thus, full assessment of Rb role in other, more relevant to human pathology, neoplasms is complicated. To prevent melanotroph neoplasia while preserving spontaneous carcinogenesis in other types of cells, we have prepared transgenic mice in which 770-bp fragment of pro-opiomelanocortin promoter directs expression of the human RB gene to melanotrophs (TgPOMC-RB). In three independent lines, transgenic mice crossed to Rb(+/-) background are devoid of melanotroph tumors but develop the usual spectrum of other neoplasms. Interestingly, abrogation of melanotroph carcinogenesis results in accelerated progression of pituitary anterior lobe tumors and medullary thyroid carcinomas. A combination of immunologic tests, cell culture studies, and tumorigenicity assays indicates that alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone, which is overproduced by melanotroph tumors, attenuates neoplastic progression by decreasing cell proliferation and inducing apoptosis. Taken together, we show that cell lineage-specific complementation of Rb function can be successfully used for refining available models of stochastic carcinogenesis and identify alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone as a potential attenuating factor during progression of neuroendocrine neoplasms.
Chronic Fatigue Center, 500 Market Street, Suite 103, Pocomoke City, MD 21851, United States.
The human health risk for chronic illnesses involving multiple body systems following inhalation exposure to the indoor environments of water-damaged buildings (WDBs) has remained poorly characterized and the subject of intense controversy. The current study assessed the hypothesis that exposure to the indoor environments of WDBs with visible microbial colonization was associated with illness. The study used a cross-sectional design with assessments at five time points, and the interventions of cholestyramine (CSM) therapy, exposure avoidance following therapy, and reexposure to the buildings after illness resolution. The methodological approach included oral administration of questionnaires, medical examinations, laboratory analyses, pulmonary function testing, and measurements of visual function. Of the 21 study volunteers, 19 completed assessment at each of the five time points. Data at Time Point 1 indicated multiple symptoms involving at least four organ systems in all study participants, a restrictive respiratory condition in four participants, and abnormally low visual contrast sensitivity (VCS) in 18 participants. Serum leptin levels were abnormally high and alpha melanocyte stimulating hormone (MSH) levels were abnormally low. Assessments at Time Point 2, following 2 weeks of CSM therapy, indicated a highly significant improvement in health status. Improvement was maintained at Time Point 3, which followed exposure avoidance without therapy. Reexposure to the WDBs resulted in illness reacquisition in all participants within 1 to 7 days. Following another round of CSM therapy, assessments at Time Point 5 indicated a highly significant improvement in health status. The group-mean number of symptoms decreased from 14.9+/-0.8 S.E.M. at Time Point 1 to 1.2+/-0.3 S.E.M., and the VCS deficit of approximately 50% at Time Point 1 was fully resolved. Leptin and MSH levels showed statistically significant improvement. The results indicated that CSM was an effective therapeutic agent, that VCS was a sensitive and specific indicator of neurologic function, and that illness involved systemic and hypothalamic processes. Although the results supported the general hypothesis that illness was associated with exposure to the WDBs, this conclusion was tempered by several study limitations. Exposure to specific agents was not demonstrated, study participants were not randomly selected, and double-blinding procedures were not used. Additional human and animal studies are needed to confirm this conclusion, investigate the role of complex mixtures of bacteria, fungi, mycotoxins, endotoxins, and antigens in illness causation, and characterize modes of action. Such data will improve the assessment of human health risk from chronic exposure to WDBs.
Department of Biochemistry, University of Missouri-Columbia, Columbia, MO 65211, USA.
The purpose of this study was to examine the therapeutic efficacy of (188)Re-(Arg(11))[Cys(3,4,10),d-Phe(7)]alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone(3-13) (CCMSH) in the B16/F1 murine melanoma- and TXM13 human melanoma-bearing mouse models. METHODS: (Arg(11))CCMSH was synthesized and labeled with (188)Re to form (188)Re-(Arg(11))CCMSH. B16/F1 melanoma-bearing mice were administrated 7.4 MBq, 22.2 MBq, and 2 x 14.8 MBq of (188)Re-(Arg(11))CCMSH via the tail vein. TXM13 melanoma-bearing mice were separately injected with 22.2 MBq, 2 x 14.8 MBq, and 37.0 MBq of (188)Re-(Arg(11))CCMSH through the tail vein. Two groups of 10 mice bearing either B16/F1 or TXM13 tumors were injected with saline as untreated controls. RESULTS: In contrast to the untreated control group, (188)Re-(Arg(11))CCMSH yielded rapid and lasting therapeutic effects in the treatment groups with either B16/F1 or TXM13 tumors. The tumor growth rate was reduced and the survival rate was prolonged in the treatment groups. Treatment with 2 x 14.8 MBq of (188)Re-(Arg(11))CCMSH significantly extended the mean life of B16/F1 tumor mice (P < 0.05), whereas the mean life of TXM13 tumor mice was significantly prolonged after treatment with 22.2-MBq and 37.0- MBq doses of (188)Re-(Arg(11))CCMSH (P < 0.05). High-dose (188)Re-(Arg(11))CCMSH produced no observed normal tissue toxicity. CONCLUSION: The therapy study results revealed that (188)Re-(Arg(11))CCMSH yielded significant therapeutic effects in both B16/F1 murine melanoma- and TXM13 human melanoma-bearing mouse models. (188)Re-(Arg(11))CCMSH appears to be a promising radiolabeled peptide for targeted radionuclide therapy of melanoma.
Department of Internal Medicine, Eulji College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
BACKGROUND: The pathogenesis of cyclosporine A (CsA)-induced nephrotoxicity has been known to be secondary to hemodynamic changes, but increasing evidence indicates that CsA has a direct toxicity to renal tubular cells, leading to their apoptosis and tubulointerstitial fibrosis. This study evaluated the mechanism for CsA-induced tubular cell apoptosis, tubulointerstitial fibrosis and its associated proteins, and the therapeutic effects of alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH) on them. METHODS: Male Sprague-Dawley rats fed with a low-sodium diet were divided into three treatment groups: group A (vehicle-injected group), group B (CsA 15 mg/kg-injected group), and group C(CsA+alpha-MSH-injected group). After 42 days, creatinine clearance; blood CsA level; apoptosis; inflammation and tubulointerstitial fibrosis in renal tissue; and the expression of Bax, Bcl2, Fas, FasL, and transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta protein were determined. RESULTS: CsA-induced tubular cell apoptosis; cellular infiltration; and increase of Fas, Bax, TGF-beta protein expression with significant tubulointerstitial fibrosis, and reduced Bcl2 protein expression. alpha-MSH treatment prevented the Bax and TGF-beta protein increase and induced Bcl2 protein increase, together with reduction of apoptosis, inflammation, and tubulointerstitial fibrosis. CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that chronic CsA nephrotoxicity is related to Bax and Bcl2-related apoptosis pathways, and that alpha-MSH can attenuate the CsA-induced tubulointerstitial fibrosis as well as tubular cell apoptosis.
Medizinische Klinik I, Universittsklinik Schleswig-Holstein, Campus Lbeck, Lbeck. email@example.com
The last decade witnessed a dramatic increase in knowledge concerning regulation of body weight and obesity. According to recent concepts constancy of body weight is a side product of regulatory events which ensure constant glucose fluxes to the brain. Within these control systems glucocorticoids and melanocortins play a fundamental role at several sites. The melanocortin neurons in the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus are important mediators of the feedback effects of leptin and insulin. Glucocorticoid and mineralocorticoid receptors in hippocampal neurons are crucial, as they define the balance between glucose allocation processes and food intake. Thereby, the hippocampal structures determine the setpoint for body weight regulation. A modulation of these brain structures by intranasal administration of melanocortin and inhisulin has been shown to reduce body weight and body fat mass in humans. So the manipulation of weight-regulating centers in the brain opens a novel approach to a pathogenetically based treatment of obesity.
Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, 330 Brookline Ave., Stoneman 816, Boston, MA 02215, USA.
Resistin is an adipocyte-secreted hormone proposed to link obesity with insulin resistance and diabetes, but no previous study has performed a joint quantitative evaluation of white adipose tissue (WAT) resistin mRNA expression and serum levels in relation to insulinemia and glycemia in mice. We have thus comparatively assessed WAT resistin mRNA expression and serum resistin levels in lean C57BL/6J mice and various mouse models of obesity, including diet-induced obese (DIO) C57BL/6J mice, high fat-fed TNF-alpha-/- mice, and brown adipose tissue (BAT)-deficient uncoupling protein-diphtheria toxin A chain (UCP1-DTA) mice. We also studied whether treatment with the weight-reducing and insulin-sensitizing compounds, MTII, an alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone analog, or CNTF(Ax15), a ciliary neurotrophic factor analog, alters resistin mRNA expression and/or circulating levels in lean and DIO C57BL/6J mice. We find that resistin mRNA expression is similar in DIO and lean C57BL/6J mice, as well as in TNF-alpha-/- and wild-type (WT) mice. Circulating resistin levels, however, are higher in DIO C57BL/6J, high fat-fed TNF-alpha-/-, and UCP1-DTA mice compared with lean controls. Moreover, although resistin mRNA expression is upregulated by MTII treatment for 24 h and downregulated by CNTF(Ax15) treatment for 3 or 7 days, circulating resistin levels are not altered by MTII or CNTF(Ax15) treatment. In addition, serum resistin levels, but not resistin mRNA expression levels, are correlated with body weight, and neither resistin mRNA expression nor serum resistin levels are correlated with serum insulin or glucose levels. We conclude that transcriptional regulation of resistin in WAT does not correlate with circulating resistin levels and that circulating resistin is unlikely to play a major endocrine role in insulin resistance or glycemia in mice.
The William Harvey Research Institute, London, UK.
Investigation of the mechanisms activated by endogenous inhibitory pathways can lead to identification of novel targets for cardiovascular inflammatory pathologies. Here we exploited the potential protective role that melanocortin receptor type 3 (MC3-R) activation might play in a myocardial ischemia-reperfusion injury model. In resting conditions, mouse and rat heart extracts expressed MC3-R mRNA and protein, without changes following ischemia-reperfusion. At the cellular level heart macrophages, but not fibroblasts or cardiomyocytes, expressed this receptor, as demonstrated by immunogold labeling. In vivo, administration of the melanocortin agonist MTII (10 microg per mouse equivalent to 9.3 nmol) 30 min prior to ischemia (25 min) attenuated mouse heart 2 h reperfusion injury by approximately 40%, an effect prevented by the mixed MC3/4-R antagonist SHU9119 but not by the selective MC4-R antagonist HS204. Similar results were obtained when the compound was given at the beginning of the reperfusion period. Importantly, delayed myocardial damage as measured 24 h post-reperfusion was equally protected by administration of 10 microg MTII. The focus on MC3-R was also substantiated by analysis of the recessive yellow (e/e) mouse, bearing a mutated (inactive) MC1-R, in which MTII was fully protective. Myocardial protection was associated with reduced markers of systemic and local inflammation, including cytokine contents (interleukin-1 and KC) and myeloperoxidase activity. In conclusion, this study has highlighted a previously unrecognized protective role for MC3-R activation on acute and delayed heart reperfusion injury. These data may open new avenues for therapeutic intervention against heart and possibly other organ ischemia-reperfusion injury.
Cambridge Institute for Medical Research, University of Cambridge, UK.
Genetic advances have made remarkable progress towards our understanding of body weight regulation. Much of our current knowledge has come from the cloning and characterisation of the genes responsible for obesity syndromes in the mouse, and the identification of homologous mutations causing rare forms of obesity in humans. Gene targeting experiments in mice have been instrumental in confirming the importance of many genes in the aetiology of obesity, and the existence of a fundamental physiological pathway that controls energy balance is becoming clear. The genetic determinants that underlie common forms of human obesity are largely polygenic, with most genes producing small effects. Thus, elucidating the many genetic determinants of obesity is a current challenge for modern geneticists. Despite the inherent difficulties, progress has been made through linkage/association studies and a genetic map of quantitative trait loci for human obesity is beginning to emerge. Obesity research is now very much in a transition period. Not so long ago, access to high throughput screening, as well as microarray and proteomic techniques, was prohibitively expensive and available only to the few. In recent years, these technologies have become more accessible to the larger scientific community and, in this paper, we will discuss how such technological advances are likely to drive the next wave of progress in obesity research. For example, large-scale mutagenesis screens in rodents coupled with high throughput screening are likely to emerge as important technologies for identifying genes previously unexpected to be involved in body weight regulation. Furthermore, applications of microarray and proteomic techniques will further refine our understanding of currently known peptides as well as identify novel pathways and molecules which are involved in energy homeostasis.
Department of Ophthalmology, Yokohama City University School of Medicine, 3-9, Fukuura, Kanazawa, Yokohama, Kanagawa 236-0004, Japan. firstname.lastname@example.org
PURPOSE: We examined the effects of the immunosuppressive neuropeptide alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH) on rat endotoxin-induced uveitis, and to measure the expression of inflammatory cytokines and chemokines with and without the alpha-MSH treatment over the course of the disease. METHODS: We injected Lewis rats once with Salmonella typhimurium lipopolysaccharide (LPS) to induce uveitis. The rats were given intravenous injections of 250, 500 or 1000 microg of alpha-MSH. The eyes were examined over the next 24 h for inflammation. Aqueous humor was collected 6, 12 and 24 h after endotoxin injections and the number of infiltrating cells were counted in anterior chamber. In addition, we assayed the concentration of protein, nitric oxide, TNF-alpha, IL-6, MCP-1 and MIP-2. RESULTS: Rats injected with alpha-MSH showed a significant decrease in the number of infiltrating cells in anterior chamber. Moreover, alpha-MSH-treated rats with endotoxin-induced uveitis (EIU) showed significantly lower concentrations of protein, nitric oxide, proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines in their aqueous humor. Even the early stages of EIU were suppressed by the injection of alpha-MSH. CONCLUSIONS: Our results demonstrate that the immunosuppressive neuropeptide alpha-MSH inhibits the early induction events of endotoxin-induced inflammation in the eye; therefore, suppresses the subsequent infiltration of cells and intraocular production of inflammatory cytokines and chemokines in eyes. alpha-MSH has a possibility of being a therapeutic strategy for anterior uveitis.
Department of Oriental Medicine, Keio University School of Medicine, 35 Shinano-machi, Shinjuku, Tokyo 160-8582, Japan. email@example.com
Here we show that eugenol has an antidepressant-like activity comparable to that of imipramine using a forced swim test and a tail suspension test in mice. Furthermore, we show that both eugenol and imipramine induce brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the hippocampus with and without induction of metallothionein-III (MT-III), respectively. It may be possible that MT-III expression is involved in the exhibition of antidepressant-like activity of eugenol, not of imipramine. Copyright 2004 Elsevier B.V.
Department of Neuroscience, McKnight Brain Institute, University of Florida, Box 100244, Gainesville, FL 32610, USA.
Leptin regulates energy homeostasis and reproduction as evidenced by dysfunctions characterized in several genetic models of leptin pathway deficiency, such as the ob/ob and db/db mice and fa/fa Zucker rat. An additional model, the obese (f/f) Koletsky rat with a nonsense leptin receptor mutation has not been fully characterized. These rats are obese, hyperphagic, diabetic, and infertile; however, little else is known about the effects of the mutation. We have characterized alterations in hypothalamic appetite regulating neuropeptides as well as energy expenditure, metabolic hormones, and the reproductive axis of obese f/f rats. As expected, obese rats of both sexes were hyperinsulinemic, hyperglycemic, and hyperleptinemic. They exhibited reduced uncoupling protein-1 mRNA expression in brown fat, indicating reduced energy expenditure. In addition, hypothalamic expression of orexigenic neuropeptide Y and agouti-related peptide mRNA levels was upregulated while the anorexigenic cocaine and amphetamine regulated transcript and proopiomelanocortin mRNA levels were reduced. We also observed reproductive axis perturbations including reduced hypothalamic luteinizing hormone releasing hormone, serum estradiol and testosterone, and increased serum progesterone levels. In conclusion, obese Koletsky rats are phenotypically similar to other leptin pathway deficiency models with reduced energy expenditure and hypothalamic neuropeptidergic alterations that could account for their obesity and infertility.
Department of Physiology, Medical University of Silesia, Zabrze, Poland. firstname.lastname@example.org
An increase in endogenous central histamine concentrations, after loading with histamine precursor L-histidine or inhibition of histamine N-methyltransferase (HNMT) activity, produces the reversal of critical hypotension with improvement in survival of haemorrhage-shocked rats. In the present study, the involvement of proopiomelanocortin (POMC)-derived peptides in central histamine-induced resuscitating action was examined in male anaesthetised Wistar rats subjected to a haemorrhagic hypotension of 20-25 mmHg resulting in the death of all control animals within 30 min. HNMT inhibitor metoprine (20 microg) administered intracerebroventricularly (i.c.v.) at 5 min of critical hypotension produced a long-lasting pressor effect with a 100% survival rate at 2 h. The action was accompanied by 34.5% and 28.9% higher plasma concentrations of ACTH and alpha-MSH, respectively, in comparison to concentrations in the saline-injected group as measured 20 min after treatment. Melanocortin type 4 (MC(4)) receptor antagonist HS014 (5 microg; i.c.v.) inhibited metoprine-induced increase in mean arterial pressure, which resulted from decreased regional vascular resistance, however, it did not affect the heart rate and the survival at 2 h. On the other hand, glucocorticoid type II receptor blocker mifepristone (30 mg/kg; sc) had no effect. In conclusion, POMC-derived peptides, acting centrally via MC(4) receptors, participate in endogenous central histamine-induced resuscitating effect in rats.
Department of Dermatology, University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf, University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany.
The collapse of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class-I-dependent immune privilege can lead to autoimmune disease or fetal rejection. Pragmatic and instructive models are needed to clarify the as yet obscure controls of MHC class I down-regulation in situ, to dissect the principles of immune privilege generation, maintenance, and collapse as well as to develop more effective strategies for immune privilege restoration. Here, we propose that human scalp hair follicles, which are abundantly available and easily studied, are ideally suited for this purpose: interferon-gamma induces ectopic MHC class I expression in the constitutively MHC class-I-negative hair matrix epithelium of organ-cultured anagen hair bulbs, likely via interferon regulatory factor-1, along with up-regulation of the MHC class I pathway molecules beta(2)microglobulin and transporter associated with antigen processing (TAP-2). In the first report to identify natural immunomodulators capable of down-regulating MHC class I expression in situ in a normal, neuroectoderm-derived human tissue, we show that ectopic MHC class I expression in human anagen hair bulbs can be normalized by treatment with alpha-MSH, IGF-1, or TGF-beta1, all of which are locally generated, as well as by FK506. These agents are promising candidates for immune privilege restoration and for suppressing MHC class I expression where this is clinically desired (eg, in alopecia areata, multiple sclerosis, autoimmune uveitis, mumps orchitis, and fetal or allograft rejection).
Department of Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, University of Latvia, Sarlotes iela la, 1001 Riga, Latvia. email@example.com
The pro-opiomelanocortin-derived peptide alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH) mediates many diverse physiological actions, including anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory effects. However, little is known about the physiological roles of the other melanocortins, beta- and gamma-MSH. Here, we investigated the effects of melanocortin peptides in an in vivo neuroinflammation model. Six hours following intracisternal (i.c.) administration of 10 microg lipopolysaccharide (LPS) to mice a five-fold increase in the nitric oxide (NO) level was seen in the animals' brains, when detected by electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR). All tested melanocortins, alpha-, beta-, gamma1- and gamma2-MSH (0.001-10 nmol/mouse i.c.), dose dependently reduced the LPS induced increases in brain NO, with an order of effectiveness: beta-MSH > or = gamma1-MSH=gamma2-MSH>alpha-MSH. Our results suggest specialized functions of beta- and gamma-MSH melanocortins in inflammatory signal modulation in the brain.
Department of Dermatology and the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Cell Biology and Immunobiology of the Skin, University of Mnster, 48149 Mnster, Germany. firstname.lastname@example.org
Suppression of collagen synthesis is a major therapeutic goal in the treatment of fibrotic disorders. We show here that alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH), a neuropeptide well known for its pigment-inducing capacity, modulates collagen synthesis and deposition. Alpha-MSH in vitro suppresses the synthesis of collagen types I, III, and V and down-regulates the secretion of procollagen type I C-terminal peptide (PICP) in human dermal fibroblasts treated with the fibrogenic cytokine transforming growth factor-beta1 (TGF-beta1). Alpha-MSH did not interfere with TGF-beta1 signaling, because TGF-beta1-induced expression of collagen mRNA was not affected, implying a posttranscriptional mechanism. Human dermal fibroblasts in vitro express a high affinity binding site for MSH, which was identified by reverse transcription PCR and immunofluorescence analysis as the melanocortin-1 receptor (MC-1R). Immunohistochemical studies on normal adult human skin confirmed MC-1R expression in distinct dermal fibroblastic cells. The MC-1R on fibroblasts appears to be functionally relevant because alpha-MSH increased the amount of intracellular cAMP, and coincubation with a synthetic peptide corresponding to the human Agouti signaling protein abrogated the inhibition of TGF-beta1-induced PICP secretion by alpha-MSH. To assess the in vivo relevance of these findings, a mouse model was used in which dermal fibrosis was induced by repetitive intracutaneous injections with TGF-beta1. The inductive activity of TGF-beta1 on collagen deposition and the number of dermal cells immunoreactive for vimentin and alpha-smooth muscle actin was significantly suppressed by injection of alpha-MSH. Melanocortins such as alpha-MSH may therefore represent a novel class of modulators with potential usefulness for the treatment of fibrotic disorders.
Department of Internal Medicine I, School of Medicine, Oita Medical University, Hasama, Oita 879-5593, Japan.
Leptin regulates feeding behavior and energy metabolism by affecting hypothalamic neuromodulators. The present study was designed to examine hypothalamic neuronal histamine, a recently identified mediator of leptin signaling in the brain, in genetic obese animals. Concentrations of hypothalamic histamine and tele-methylhistamine (t-MH), a major histamine metabolite, were significantly lower in obese (ob/ob) and diabetic (db/db) mice, and Zucker fatty (fa/fa) rats, leptin-deficient and leptin-receptor defective animals, respectively, relative to lean littermates (P < 0.05 for each). A bolus infusion of leptin (1.0 microg) into the lateral ventricle (ilvt) significantly elevated the turnover rate of hypothalamic neuronal histamine, as assessed by pargyline-induced accumulation of t-MH, in ob/ob mice compared with phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) infusions (P < 0.05). However, this same treatment did not affect hypothalamic histamine turnover in db/db mice. In agouti yellow (A(y)/a) mice, animals defective in pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) signaling, normal levels of histamine, and t-MH were seen in the hypothalamus at 4 weeks of age when obesity had not yet developed. These amine levels in A(y)/a mice showed no change until 16 weeks of age, although the mice were remarkably obese by this time. Infusions of corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH), one of neuropeptide related to leptin signaling, into the third ventricle (i3vt) increased histamine turnover in the hypothalamus of Wistar King A rats (P < 0.05 versus PBS infusion). Infusion of neuropeptide Y (NPY) or alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone (MSH), a POMC-derived peptide failed to increase histamine turnover. These results indicate that lowered activity of hypothalamic neuronal histamine in ob/ob and db/db mice, and fa/fa rats may be due to insufficiency of leptin action in the brains of these animals. These results also suggest that disruption of POMC signaling in A(y)/a mice may not impact on neuronal histamine. Moreover, CRH but neither POMC-derived peptide nor NPY may act as a signal to neuronal histamine downstream of the leptin signaling pathway.
Schering-Plough Research Institute, San Raffaele Biomedical Science Park, Via Olgettina 58, 20132 Milan, Italy. email@example.com
The melanocortin (MC) system is involved in several biological functions. Its possible role in nociception has recently attracted attention in the field. Published data suggest that melanocortin antagonists are analgesic and agonists are hyperalgesic. Gene expression information about the MC system components (receptor, agonist and antagonist) in pain relevant areas is at present limited. To deepen our knowledge, we studied the expression of MC system components in nai;ve, sham and neuropathic rat spinal cord and dorsal root ganglia (DRG) by PCR and quantitative real-time PCR. MC4 receptor, proopiomelanocortin (POMC) and agouti-related protein (AgRP) transcripts were detected in both spinal cord and DRG, whereas MC3 receptor was detected only in the spinal cord. To study the relationship between the MC system and chronic pain, we used the chronic constriction injury model and gene expression analysis was performed in rats showing both tactile allodynia and thermal hyperalgesia. MC4 and POMC transcript were upregulated in the spinal cord of neuropathic rats, whereas MC3 and AgRP expression were unaffected. Thus, this study demonstrates for the first time the presence of AgRP in the spinal cord and DRG, suggesting that it could play a role in the regulation of MC system activity. In addition, the upregulation of POMC and MC4, in parallel with the presence of tactile allodynia and thermal hyperalgesia, further supports the idea of MC system involvement in nociception.
Department of Biomedical Sciences, Section of Pharmacology, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, via G. Campi 287, 41100, Modena, Italy. firstname.lastname@example.org
In rats subjected to myocardial ischemia/reperfusion, melanocortin peptides, including gamma(1)-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (gamma(1)-MSH), are able to exert a protective effect by stimulating brain melanocortin MC(3) receptors. A non-melanocortin receptor belonging to a group of receptors for Phe-Met-Arg-Phe-NH(2) (FMRFamide)-like peptides may be involved in some of the cardiovascular effects of the gamma-MSHs. FMRFamide-like peptides and gamma(1)-/gamma(2)-MSH share, among other things, the C-terminal Arg-Phe sequence, which seems to be essential for cardiovascular effects in normal animals. So we aimed to further investigate which receptor and which structure are involved in the protective effects of melanocortins in anesthetized rats subjected to myocardial ischemia by ligature of the left anterior descending coronary artery (5 min), followed by reperfusion. In saline-treated rats, reperfusion induced, within a few seconds, a high incidence of ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation, and a high percentage of death within the 5 min of observation period. Reperfusion was associated with a massive increase in free radical blood levels and with an abrupt and marked fall in systemic arterial pressure. The i.v. treatment (162 nmol/kg) during the ischemic period with the adrenocorticotropin fragment 1-24 [ACTH-(1-24): the reference protective melanocortin which binds all melanocortin receptors], as well as with both the melanocortin MC(3) receptor agonists gamma(2)-MSH and [D-Trp(8)]gamma(2)-MSH, reduced the incidence of ventricular tachycardia, ventricular fibrillation and death, the increase in free radical blood levels and the fall in arterial pressure. On the contrary, gamma(2)-MSH-(6-12) (a fragment unable to bind melanocortin receptors) was ineffective. Such protective effect was prevented by the melanocortin MC(3)/MC(4) receptor antagonist SHU 9119. In normal (i.e., not subjected to myocardial ischemia/reperfusion) rats, the same i.v. dose (162 nmol/kg) of gamma(2)-MSH, [D-Trp(8)]gamma(2)-MSH and gamma(2)-MSH-(6-12) provoked a prompt and transient increase in arterial pressure; on the other hand, ACTH-(1-24), which lacks the C-terminal Arg-Phe sequence, decreased arterial pressure, but only at higher doses. Heart rate of normal rats was not affected by any of the assayed peptides. The present data confirm and extend our previous findings that melanocortins prevent myocardial reperfusion injury by activating melanocortin MC(3) receptors. Moreover, they further support the notion that, in normal rats, cardiovascular effects of gamma-MSHs are mediated by receptors for FMRFamide-like peptides, for whose activation, but not for that of melanocortin MC(3) receptors, the C-terminal Arg-Phe structure being relevant.
Dpartement de Biochimie, Universit de Montral, C.P. 6128, Succ. Centre-Ville, Montreal, Canada H3C 3J7.
Metalloendopeptidases of the M13 family were shown to play critical roles in normal physiological processes such as pain control, hypertension and phosphate metabolism, and in pathological states such as Alzheimer's disease. Recently, NL1, a novel member of the family, has been identified and shown to be expressed in several tissues both as a membrane-bound and a secreted protein. As a further step to understand the physiological role(s) of NL1 in mouse, we mapped NL1 mRNA expression pattern in embryos and in young animals at postnatal days p1 and p3, and in adult nervous tissue, using in situ hybridization at the cellular level. No expression could be detected in embryos and young animals. In contrast, NL1 expression was evident in adult brain, pituitary gland and spinal cord. In the central nervous system (CNS), NL1 mRNA was predominantly found in the ventro-posterior regions, which are mostly associated with vegetative functions. At the cellular level, NL1 mRNA was non-uniformly distributed within subpopulations of neurons. In the spinal cord, specific signal was observed in the gray matter. Then, in order to identify putative relevant substrates for NL1, we studied its enzymatic activity towards peptides known to be co-expressed in the NL1-positive domains. Our study showed that NL1 degrades several of these peptides in vitro, the most readily degraded peptides being Bradykinin and Substance P. These results suggest that NL1 is likely to play a critical role in the central nervous system.
Schepens Eye Research Institute and the Department of Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School 20 Staniford Steet, Boston, MA 02114, USA. email@example.com
Although many immunosuppressive factors have been identified in the eye, one of these factors, alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH), both suppresses the activation of inflammatory activity by primed T cells and induces the activation of regulatory T cells (Treg cells). This neuropeptide alone at its ocular physiological concentration can account for most of the immunosuppressive activity of aqueous humor (the fluid filing the anterior chamber of the eye). Aqueous humor made devoid of alpha-MSH no longer suppresses IFN-gamma production by Th1 cells. It is alpha-MSH that mediates aqueous humor induction of regulatory T cells. What we have found is that alpha-MSH mediates the induction of C4+ CD25+ Treg cells, and that if the alpha-MSH Treg cells are specific to an autoantigen they can be used to suppress autoimmune disease. It is the objective of this review to demonstrate how we came to discover that alpha-MSH could have such an important role in the extreme regional immunity of the immune privileged eye and how this discovery could be applied to create or reestablish tolerance to prevent autoimmune disease.
Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology and Nutrition, Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98104, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
Data from both rodent models and humans suggest that intact neuronal melanocortin signaling is essential to prevent obesity, as mutations that decrease the melanocortin signal within the brain induce hyperphagia and excess body fat accumulation. Melanocortins are also involved in the pathogenesis of disorders at the opposite end of the spectrum of energy homeostasis, the anorexia and weight loss associated with inflammatory and neoplastic disease processes. Studies using melanocortin antagonists (SHU9119 or agouti-related peptide) or genetic approaches (melanocortin-4 receptor null mice) suggest that intact melanocortin tone is required for anorexia and weight loss induced by injected lipopolysaccharide (an inflammatory gram-negative bacterial cell wall product) or by implantation of prostate or lung cancer cells. Although the precise mechanism whereby peripheral inflammatory/neoplastic factors activate the melanocortin system remains unknown, the proinflammatory cytokines (interleukin-1, interleukin-6, and tumor necrosis factor-alpha) that are produced in the hypothalamus of rodents during both inflammatory and neoplastic disease processes likely play a role. The data presented in this paper summarize findings that implicate neuronal melanocortin signaling in inflammatory anorexia.
Department of Medicine and the Tupper Research Institute, Tufts University School of Medicine and Tufts-New England Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts 02111, USA. email@example.com
Fever is a phylogenetically ancient response that is mounted upon exposure of the host to pathogens or inflammatory agents. Melanocortin agonists act centrally to inhibit fever by acting at receptors, including the melanocortin-4 receptor, which is prominently expressed in key hypothalamic thermoregulatory centers. Furthermore, endogenous melanocortins act centrally as physiological modulators of fever, recruited during the febrile response to restrain its intensity. Functionally, these actions lie at the interface between the anti-inflammatory effects of melanocortins, which involve suppression of the synthesis and actions of proinflammatory cytokines, and the central control of thermoregulation. Considering the extensive neuroanatomic and functional overlaps between central pathways and peripheral effectors involved in thermoregulation and energy balance, it is not surprising that melanocortins have been found to influence the metabolic economy profoundly in pathological as well as normal states. For example, despite suppressing endotoxin-induced fever, endogenous melanocortins appear to mediate the associated anorexia, a classic component of the "illness syndrome" accompanying acute infections, and promote a negative energy balance. The thermoregulatory actions of melanocortins are in several respects functionally opposed, and are remarkably dependent on physiological state, indicating that responsiveness to melanocortins is a physiologically modulated variable. Elucidating the anti-inflammatory and thermoregulatory roles of central melanocortin receptors during inflammatory states may lead to novel pharmacotherapeutic targets based on selective targeting of melanocortin receptor subtypes, for clinical benefit in human disease states involving neuroinflammatory components and metabolic wasting.
The William Harvey Research Institute, London, UK. firstname.lastname@example.org
In this study, we analyzed the anti-inflammatory effects of alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone (MSH)11-13 (KPV) in comparison with other MSH peptides in a model of crystal-induced peritonitis. Systemic treatment of mice with KPV, alpha-MSH, the core melanocortin peptide His-Phe-Arg-Trp, and the melanocontin receptor 3/4 agonist Ac-Nle4-c[Asp5,d-Phe7,Lys10]NH2 ACTH4-10 (MTII) but not the selective MC1-R agonist H-Ser-Ser-Ile-Ile-Ser-His-Phe-Arg-Trp-Gly-Lys-Pro-Val-NH2 (MS05) resulted in a significant reduction in accumulation of polymorphonuclear leukocyte in the peritoneal cavity. The antimigratory effect of KPV was not blocked by the MC3/4-R antagonist Ac-Nle4-c[Asp5,d-2Nal7,Lys10]NH2 ACTH4-10 (SHU9119). In vitro, macrophage activation, determined as release of KC and interleukin (IL)-1beta was inhibited by alpha-MSH and MTII but not by KPV. Furthermore, macrophage activation by MTII led to an increase in cAMP accumulation, which was attenuated by SHU9119, whereas KPV failed to increase cAMP. The anti-inflammatory properties of KPV were also evident in IL-1beta-induced peritonitis inflammation and in mice with a nonfunctional MC1-R (recessive yellow e/e mice). In conclusion, these data highlight that the C-terminal MSH peptide KPV exhibits an anti-inflammatory effect that is clearly different from that of the core MSH peptides. KPV is unlikely to mediate its effects through melanocortin receptors but is more likely to act through inhibition of IL-1beta functions.
Department of Molecular Genetics of Intracellular Transport, Institute of Gene Biology, Russian Academy of Sciences, 34/5 Vavilov St., 119334, Moscow, Russia.
The search for new pharmaceuticals that are specific for diseased rather than normal cells in the case of cancer and viral disease has raised interest in locally acting drugs that act over short distances within the cell and for which different cell compartments have distinct sensitivities. Thus, photosensitizers (PSs) used in anti-cancer therapy should ideally be transported to the most sensitive subcellular compartments in order for their action to be most pronounced. Here we describe the design, production, and characterization of the effects of bacterially expressed modular recombinant transporters for PSs comprising 1) alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone as an internalizable, cell-specific ligand; 2) an optimized nuclear localization sequence of the SV40 large T-antigen; 3) an Escherichia coli hemoglobin-like protein as a carrier; and 4) an endosomolytic amphipathic polypeptide, the translocation domain of diphtheria toxin. These modular transporters delivered PSs into the nuclei, the most vulnerable sites for the action of PSs, of murine melanoma cells, but not non-MSH receptor-overexpressing cells, to result in cytotoxic effects several orders of magnitude greater than those of nonmodified PSs. The modular fusion proteins described here for the first time, capable of cell-specific targeting to particular subcellular compartments to increase drug efficacy, represent new pharmaceuticals with general application.
BACKGROUND: Obesity, a multifactorial disease caused by the interaction of genetic factors with the environment, is largely polygenic. A few mutations in these genes, such as in the leptin receptor (LEPR) gene and melanocortin 4 receptor (MC4R) gene, have been identified as causes of monogenic obesity. METHODS: We sequenced the complete MC4R coding region, the region of the proopiomelanocortin gene (POMC) encoding the alpha melanocyte-stimulating hormone, and the leptin-binding domain of LEPR in 469 severely obese white subjects (370 women and 99 men; mean [+/-SE] age, 41.0+/-0.5 years; body-mass index [the weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in meters], 44.1+/-2.0). Fifteen women and 10 men without a history of dieting or a family history of obesity served as normal-weight controls (age, 47.7+/-2.0 years; body-mass index, 21.6+/-0.4). Detailed phenotypic data, including information on body fat, resting energy expenditure, diet-induced thermogenesis, serum concentrations of leptin, and eating behavior, were collected. RESULTS: Twenty-four obese subjects (5.1 percent) and one control subject (4 percent) had MC4R mutations, including five novel variants. Twenty of the 24 obese subjects with an MC4R mutation were matched for age, sex, and body-mass index with 120 of the 445 obese subjects without an MC4R mutation. All mutation carriers reported binge eating, as compared with 14.2 percent of obese subjects without mutations (P<0.001) and 0 percent of the normal-weight subjects without mutations. The prevalence of binge eating was similar among carriers of mutations in the leptin-binding domain of LEPR and noncarriers. No mutations were found in the region of POMC encoding alpha melanocyte-stimulating hormone. CONCLUSIONS: Binge eating is a major phenotypic characteristic of subjects with a mutation in MC4R, a candidate gene for the control of eating behavior. Copyright 2003 Massachusetts Medical Society
Department of Internal Medicine, Ospedale Maggiore di Milano IRCCS, Milan, Italy.
OBJECTIVES: The peptide alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH) possesses potent anti-inflammatory activities and has been previously implicated in the endogenous control of inflammatory reactions. The aim of the present research was to determine whether alpha-MSH and its receptors participate in a localized anti-inflammatory response in the duodenal mucosa of celiac patients. METHODS: Three series of experiments were performed, using duodenal biopsy pairs from 53 adult celiac patients and 14 normal subjects, in order to determine: (1). mucosal immunoreactivity for alpha-MSH and melanocortin receptors (MCRs), and gene expression of alpha-MSH precursor pro-opiomelanocortin and MCRs; (2). alpha-MSH and inflammatory cytokine production by duodenal specimens in vitro, and the influence of synthetic alpha-MSH on such cytokine production, and (3). the influence of stimulation with gliadin (the subfraction of gluten that is toxic to patients with celiac disease) on alpha-MSH and cytokine production in vitro and the effect of alpha-MSH on gliadin-stimulated cytokine production. RESULTS: Elements of a localized anti-inflammatory influence based on alpha-MSH and its receptors were found: duodenal mucosa showed immunostaining for alpha-MSH and two of its receptor subtypes, MC1R and MC5R. alpha-MSH and MC1R immunoreactivity was more intense in specimens from celiac patients. Release of interleukin 6 from gliadin-stimulated duodenal mucosa was inhibited by synthetic alpha-MSH in vitro. CONCLUSIONS: Presence of alpha-MSH and its receptors in celiac mucosa suggests the presence of a local reaction to control the inflammatory response elicited by gliadin. In selected cases of refractory celiac disease, treatment with exogenous peptides might be considered. Copyright 2003 S. Karger AG, Basel
Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine, Sir Charles Tupper Medical Building, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada B3H 4H7. email@example.com
Central dopaminergic systems are implicated in schizophrenia and Parkinson's disease, and are known to be modulated by the endogenous tripeptide Pro-Leu-Gly-NH(2) (PLG or MIF-1, melanocyte-stimulating hormone release inhibiting factor-1). Differential display polymerase chain reaction (ddPCR) was utilized to identify genes that are regulated by protracted PLG treatment (20 mg/kg, i.p. for 28 days) in male Sprague-Dawley rats. A total of 2400 genes were screened and 3 down-regulated bands were identified in the PLG-treated samples. Sequencing analysis revealed a total of six unique cDNA species. One fragment possessed a high degree of homology with Mus musculus hnRNP-L (protein L) mRNA (GenBank #AB009392) (termed PRG1: PLG regulated gene 1). Elongation of the PRG1 cDNA, by RACE-PCR, provided an 835 bp sequence with 95% homology to AB009392 over a 743 bp span. Open reading frame analysis provided a putative amino acid sequence consistent with the identity of PRG1 as rat hnRNP-L. Northern hybridization experiments with PRG1 revealed a 2.3 kb mRNA species that was decreased by 65% in the PLG-treated tissue. Western blot analysis revealed significantly decreased hnRNP-L levels in the striatum and pre-frontal cortex (but not the nucleus accumbens) by 71 and 61%, respectively of PLG-treated animals. The identification of altered expression of hnRNP-L following PLG treatment provides insight into the long-term effects of PLG and may provide insight into its molecular mechanism of action. Copyright 2002 Elsevier Science Inc.
Institute of Pharmacology, Polish Academy of Sciences, 12 Smetna Str., 31-343 Cracow, Poland.
Co-localization of opioid and melanocortin receptor expression, especially at the spinal cord level in the dorsal horn and in the gray matter surrounding the central canal led to the suggestion that melanocortins might play a role in nociceptive processes. In the present studies, we aimed to determine the effects of melanocortins, administered intrathecally, on allodynia, and to ascertain whether there is an interaction between opioid and melanocortin systems at the spinal cord level. Neuropathic pain was induced by chronic constriction injury (CCI) of the right sciatic nerve in rats. Tactile allodynia was assessed using von Frey filaments, while thermal hyperlagesia was evaluated in cold water allodynia test. In the present experiments, melanocortin receptor antagonist, SHU9119 was much more potent than mu-opioid receptor agonist, morphine after their intrathecal (i.th.) administration in neuropathic rats. SHU9119 alleviated allodynia in a comparable manner to DAMGO, a selective and potent mu-opioid receptor agonist. Administration of melanocortin receptor agonist, melanotan-II (MTII) increased the sensitivity to tactile and cold stimulation. Moreover, we demonstrated that the selective blockade of mu-opioid receptor by cyprodime (CP) enhanced antiallodynic effect of SHU9119 as well as pronociceptive action of MTII, whereas the combined administration of mu receptor agonist (DAMGO) and SHU9119 significantly reduced the analgesic effect of those ligands. DAMGO also reversed the proallodynic effect of melanocortin receptor agonist, MTII. In conclusion, it seems that the endogenous opioidergic system acts as a functional antagonist of melanocortinergic system, and mu-opioid receptor activity appears to be involved in the modulation of melanocortin system function.
Department of Neuroscience,, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, Connecticut 06030-3401, USA.
Menkes protein (ATP7A) is a P-type ATPase involved in copper uptake and homeostasis. Disturbed copper homeostasis occurs in patients with Menkes disease, an X-linked disorder characterized by mental retardation, neurodegeneration, connective tissue disorders, and early childhood death. Mutations in ATP7A result in malfunction of copper-requiring enzymes, such as tyrosinase and copper/zinc superoxide dismutase. The first step of the two-step amidation reaction carried out by peptidylglycine alpha-amidating monooxygenase (PAM) also requires copper. We used tissue from wild-type rats and mice and an ATP7A-specific antibody to determine that ATP7A is expressed at high levels in tissues expressing high levels of PAM. ATP7A is largely localized to the trans Golgi network in pituitary endocrine cells. The Atp7a mouse, bearing a mutation in the Atp7a gene, is an excellent model system for examining the consequences of ATP7A malfunction. Despite normal levels of PAM protein, levels of several amidated peptides were reduced in pituitary and brain extracts of Atp7a mice, demonstrating that PAM function is compromised when ATP7A is inactive. Based on these results, we conclude that a reduction in the ability of PAM to produce bioactive end-products involved in neuronal growth and development could contribute to many of the biological effects associated with Menkes disease.
Drug Discovery Division, Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research and Development, Welsh and McKean Rds., PO Box 776, Spring House, PA 19477, USA.
The melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4) modulates physiological functions such as feeding behavior, nerve regeneration, and drug addiction. Using a high throughput screen based on (125)I-NDP-MSH binding to the human MC4 receptor, we discovered 2,3-diaryl-5-anilino[1,2,4]thiadiazoles 3 as potent and selective MC4 receptor agonists. Through SAR development on the three attached aryl rings, we improved the binding affinity from 174 nM to 4.4 nM IC(50). When delivered intraperitoneally, compounds 3a, 3b, and 3c induced significant inhibition of food intake in a fasting-induced feeding model in rats. When delivered orally, these compounds lost activity, mainly due to rapid metabolism to inactive imidoylthiourea reduction products.
Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, Metabolism and Molecular Medicine, Department of Medicine and the Tupper Research Institute, Tufts-New England Medical Center, 750 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02111, USA.
Following stroke, an intracerebral inflammatory response develops that may contribute to postischemic central nervous system injury. This study's objective was to determine whether the anti-inflammatory neuropeptide alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone (MSH) can suppress postischemic activation of intracerebral tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta) gene expression. Ipsilateral TNF-alpha levels were increased in cerebrocortical territory of the middle cerebral artery (MCA) following transient unilateral MCA occlusion (MCAO) and reperfusion in mice, and systemic alpha-MSH treatment (0.5 mg/kg i.p.) suppressed this increase. Systemic alpha-MSH treatment also inhibited the marked increases in cortical TNF-alpha and IL-1beta mRNA levels following MCAO, and reduced the intracerebral TNF-alpha protein levels seen after transient global ischemia. We conclude that alpha-MSH treatment suppresses intracerebral proinflammatory cytokine gene expression following transient cerebral ischemia, suggesting that systemically administered melanocortins may exert neuroprotective effects in cerebral ischemia.
Schepens Eye Research Institute and the Department of Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.
Recently, we have reported that the cytokines alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH) and transforming growth factor-beta2 (TGF-beta2) work in synergy to induce the activation of regulatory T (Treg) cells. When we used alpha-MSH and TGF-beta2 to generate ocular autoantigen-specific Treg cells and adoptively transferred them into mice susceptible to experimental autoimmune uveoretinitis (EAU), there was suppression in the incidence and severity of EAU. Specificity to a retinal autoantigen was required for the Treg cells to suppress EAU. When stimulated, these Treg cells produced TGF-beta1, and their production of interferon-gamma, interleukin (IL)-10, and IL-4 was suppressed. Also, the Treg cells are suppressed in their proliferative response. Our results demonstrate that alpha-MSH with TGF-beta2 induce Treg cells that can subdue a tissue-specific autoimmune response. This also promotes the possibility of using these immunomodulating cytokines to purposely induce antigen-specific Treg cells to prevent and suppress autoimmune disease.
Department of Medicine, VA Puget Sound Health Care System and Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
Obesity has become a leading public health concern. Over 1 billion people are now overweight or obese, and the prevalence of these conditions is rising rapidly. Remarkable new insights into the mechanisms that control body weight are providing an increasingly detailed framework for a better understanding of obesity pathogenesis. Key peripheral signals, such as leptin, insulin, and ghrelin, have been linked to hypothalamic neuropeptide systems, and the anatomic and functional networks that integrate these systems have begun to be elucidated. This article highlights some of these recent findings and their implications for the future of obesity treatment.
Immunopharmacology Unit, The William Harvey Research Institute, St Bartholomew's/Royal London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Charterhouse Square, London EC1M 6BQ, UK.
OBJECTIVE: To test the hypothesis that local activation of melanocortin receptor(s) by adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) could be responsible, at least in part, for its efficacy in human gouty arthritis. METHODS: Monosodium urate monohydrate (MSU) crystals were administered into rat knee joints either alone or with ACTH or a selective melanocortin type 3 receptor (MC3-R) agonist. Neutrophil migration, arthritis score, increases in joint size, and cytokine levels were measured over time. MC3-R expression on rat knee joint macrophages was monitored by electron microscopy and intracellular accumulation of cyclic adenosine monophosphate. RESULTS: MSU crystals produced a knee joint inflammation that was time dependent and was characterized by cell influx and cytokine release that was sensitive to treatment with classic anti-arthritic drugs (indomethacin, colchicine, dexamethasone). Local, but not systemic, ACTH had an antiinflammatory effect in normal rats, a dose that did not alter circulating corticosterone (5 microg). This treatment was also effective in adrenalectomized rats. Rat knee joint macrophages expressed functional MC3-R. The MC3-R antagonist (SHU9119, 10 microg) blocked ACTH antiinflammatory actions, whereas antiinflammatory activity was retained with a selective MC3-R agonist (gamma(2)-melanocyte-stimulating hormone). CONCLUSION: This research provides evidence for a separate mechanism of action of ACTH in experimental gouty arthritis and points to a novel antiinflammatory target (selective agonists at MC3-R) for clinical management of human gouty arthritis and possibly other chronic inflammatory conditions.
Departamento de Farmacologa, Facultad de Ciencias Mdicas, Ciudad Universitaria, Universidad Nacional de Crdoba, Argentina.
The peptide alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH) occurs within the pituitary, brain, skin, ovary and other tissues, and has potent anti-inflammatory activity. For this reason, we examined its effects on an autoimmune disease: the experimental autoimmune-oophoritis (EAO). We analyzed the effect of the peptide on the release of nitric oxide (NO) and progesterone from cultured ovarian granulosa (GL) cells at 0, 7, 14, 21 and 28 days after sensitization of the rats. On day 0 the progesterone levels were higher in estrous rats than those in proestrus and diestrus. The NO amount did not differ among the diverse days of the cycles. The administration of alpha-MSH induced a decrease of NO in estrus and diestrus, but did not affect progesterone release. The EAO rats showed a period of constant diestrus ranging from about 7 to 14 days after immunization. At the onset (day 7) and the end of this period (day 14), the NO significantly increased in estrous rats which was correlated with a reduction in progesterone concentration. This effect was reverted by alpha-MSH. At 21 and 28 days, progesterone release increased only when the rats were in proestrus, while NO production was similar to that on day 0. Administration of alpha-MSH reduced progesterone release when the rats were in proestrus and these results were correlated with an increase in NO only at day 14. The results obtained suggest that alpha-MSH could act as a modulator of EAO, specially when the rats are in estrus.
University Department of Medicine, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge CB2 2QQ, UK.
The functional loss of both alleles of the human pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) gene leads to a very rare syndrome of hypoadrenalism, red hair and early-onset obesity. In order to examine whether more subtle genetic variants in POMC might contribute to early-onset obesity, the coding region of the gene was sequenced in 262 Caucasian subjects with a history of severe obesity from childhood. Two children were found to be heterozygous for a missense mutation, R236G, which disrupts the dibasic cleavage site between beta melanocyte-stimulating hormone (beta-MSH) and beta-endorphin. Beta-TC3 cells transfected with the mutant POMC cDNA produced a mutant beta-MSH/beta-endorphin fusion protein. This fusion protein bound to the human melanocortin-4 receptor (hMC4R) with an affinity similar to its natural ligands, but had a markedly reduced ability to activate the receptor. This variant co-segregated with early-onset obesity over three generations in one family and was absent in 412 normal weight UK Caucasian controls. Combining the results in UK Caucasians with a new case-control study in French subjects and three previously published reports, mutations disrupting this processing site were present in 0.88% of subjects with early-onset obesity and 0.22% of normal-weight controls. These results suggest that the R236G mutation may confer an inherited susceptibility to obesity through the production of an aberrant fusion protein that has the capacity to interfere with central melanocortin signalling.
Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Loyola University Chicago Medical Center, Maywood, IL 60153, USA.
Infection with pathogens often leads to loss of body weight, but the cause of weight loss during infection is poorly understood. We used the infection of mice with lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) as a model to study how pathogens induce weight loss. If LCMV is introduced into the CNS of CTL-deficient mice, the immune response against the virus leads to a severe weight loss called wasting disease. We planned to determine what components of this antiviral immune response mediate wasting disease. By adoptive transfer, we show that CD4 T cells activated by LCMV infection are sufficient to cause wasting disease. We examined the role of cytokines in LCMV-induced wasting disease using mice lacking specific cytokines or cytokine receptors. Results of adoptive transfer experiments suggest that TNF-alpha is not involved in LCMV-induced wasting disease and show that IFN-gamma contributes to the disease. Consistent with a role for IFN-gamma in wasting, we find that IFN-gamma is necessary for LCMV-specific CD4 T cell responses in the CNS, most likely because it is required to induce MHC class II expression. Our data also indicate that IL-1 is required for LCMV-induced wasting and that IL-6 contributes to the wasting disease. Additionally, our results identify alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone as a potential mediator of the disease. Overall, this work defines the critical role of virus-primed CD4 T cells and of proinflammatory cytokines in the pathogenesis of wasting disease induced by LCMV infection.
Institute of Combined Injury, Third Military Medical University, Chongqing, PR China. email@example.com
Preliminary experiments indicated that target cells were resistant to glucocorticoid (GC) after pathological stress. This study was designed to investigate the alterations in plasma corticosterone level and GC receptor (GR) of liver cytosols, to assess the relative inflammatory cytokines contribution to GC resistant, and to observe the action of alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH) on the potential implications of glucocorticord regulatory effects in burned rats. Male Wistar rats (weight range, 180-200g) received a 35% total body surface area immersion scald and were randomly divided to receive either tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFalpha), interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta), polyclonal antibody (pAb), alpha-MSH, Ac-D-Lys-L-Pro-D-Val (KPV peptide), or saline (control).The binding capacity (Rt) of the steroid-binding sites was measured by radioligand binding assay, using [3H]dexamethasone as the ligand. We examined plasma levels of IL-1beta, TNFalpha, IL-10, and corticosterone following scald challenge in rats. The Rt of GR (208.45+/-30.78fmol/mg of protein) in hepatic cytosol in rats, 12h later the scald was significantly lower than that (306.71+/-27.96fmol/mg of protein) of the control group (P<0.01). The injections of anti-rat TNFalpha (257.80+/-12.82fmol/mg of protein), IL-1beta antibody (254.46+/-21.21fmol/mg of protein), alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (278.32+/-7.76fmol/mg of protein) and KPV peptide (263.46+/-17.46fmol/mg of protein) might prevent the Rt of GR from decreasing in hepatic cytosols of rats with scald, respectively (all of P<0.05) in vivo. Scald-induced robust increases in plasma IL-1beta (214.08+/-27.25pg/ml), TNFalpha (111.18+/-23.97pg/ml), IL-10 (177.50+/-15.79pg/ml) and corticosterone (2680+/-443.23ng/ml) levels after 12h. The administration of TNFalpha, IL-1beta pAb, alpha-MSH and KPV might attenuate these increases. These studies suggest that pro-inflammatory cytokines are involved in downregulation of GRs and thus alpha-MSH and KPV might increase the level of GR in rats with immersion scald.
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, New Orleans, Louisiana 70112, USA.
The prohormone convertase PC2 requires the aid of a helper protein, known as 7B2, for production of active enzyme. Deletion of 7B2 results in a lethal phenotype resembling Cushing's disease. In this study, we have investigated the effect of a single low dose of recombinant adenovirus vector encoding 7B2 and delivered directly to the pituitary of 7B2 nulls on pituitary ACTH, plasma ACTH, corticosterone, alpha MSH and glucose, and survival time. We show that after injection of recombinant adenovirus encoding 27-kDa 7B2 into 7B2 nulls, transgene expression, as measured by RIA for 7B2, exhibits a transient elevation in the pituitary and blood, with a slight but significant elevation of PC2 activity in pituitaries of 7B2 nulls and a drop in the level of circulating ACTH concomitant with a small increase in circulating alpha MSH. The level of circulating blood glucose was increased, and that of corticosterone was decreased. Lastly, slight but significantly prolonged survival times were observed. These data showing partial rescue of 7B2 nulls support the idea that adenoviral administration of 7B2 will represent an effective means to study the role of this interesting neuroendocrine protein on endocrine function in vivo.
Department of Dermatology, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, PO Box 670592, Cincinnati, Ohio 45267-0592, USA.
Cutaneous pigmentation is determined by the amounts of eumelanin and pheomelanin synthesized by epidermal melanocytes and is known to protect against sun-induced DNA damage. The synthesis of eumelanin is stimulated by the binding of alpha-melanotropin (alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone) to the functional melanocortin 1 receptor (MC1R) expressed on melanocytes. The human MC1R gene is highly polymorphic and certain allelic variants of the gene are associated with red hair phenotype, melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer. The importance of the MC1R gene in determining skin cancer risk led us to examine the impact of specific polymorphisms in this gene on the responses of human melanocytes to alpha-melanotropin and UV radiation. We compared the ability of human melanocyte cultures, each derived from a single donor, to respond to alpha-melanotropin with dose-dependent stimulation of cAMP formation, tyrosinase activity and proliferation. In each of those cultures the MC1R gene was sequenced, and the eumelanin and pheomelanin contents were determined. Human melanocytes homozygous for Arg160Trp, heterozygous for Arg160Trp and Asp294His, or for Arg151Cys and Asp294His substitutions, but not melanocytes homozygous for Val92Met substitution, in the MC1R demonstrated a significantly reduced response to alpha-melanotropin. Additionally, melanocytes with a non-functional MC1R demonstrated a pronounced increase in their sensitivity to the cytotoxic effect of UV radiation compared with melanocytes expressing functional MC1R. We conclude that loss-of-function mutations in the MC1R gene sensitize human melanocytes to the DNA damaging effects of UV radiation, which may increase skin cancer risk.
Zycos Inc., 44 Hartwell Ave, Lexington, MA 02421, USA.
Alpha-Melanocyte Stimulating Hormone (alphaMSH) is a neuroimmunomodulatory peptide with remarkable anti-inflammatory properties. Daily or twice daily administration of the peptide reduces the symptoms of several inflammatory animal disease models and the peptide has demonstrated safety in human trials. Unfortunately, the pharmacokinetics of peptide delivery are not favorable from the pharmaceutical perspective. For this reason, plasmid-based vectors were created that constitutively express the immunomodulatory peptide. The fusion constructs encode the 13 amino acids of alphaMSH in frame with the first domain of serum albumin, separated by a linker and furin cleavage sites. The fusion proteins were expressed and processed in human fetal kidney (293) cells. Supernatant from B16/F10 cells transfected with the constructs stimulated secretion of melanin from melanocytes. Furthermore, transfected cytoskeletal muscle (Sol8) cells secreted bioactive alphaMSH that reduced NF-kappaB-mediated transcriptional activation of a luciferase reporter gene. The activity of these vectors provides tools and the impetus for testing the constructs in several animal models of chronic inflammation.
Department of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Disease, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharma KG, Bierbach an der Riss, Germany. firstname.lastname@example.org
OBJECTIVE: To examine the effects of a cafeteria diet and a chronic treatment with melanocortin agonist (MTII) on mature weight-stable female rats. RESEARCH METHODS AND PROCEDURES: Ex-breeder Chbb:Thom rats (350 to 400 g) were divided into two groups: highly palatable food (HPF) and normal rat chow (RC). Both groups had ab libitum access to rat chow. The HPF group had access to chocolate bars, cookies, cheese, and nuts (approximately 20 g/d). After 21 days, the rats in each group were then divided into control and treated groups. Mini-pumps delivering saline or MTII (1 mg/kg per day) for minimally 28 days were implanted. Oxygen consumption was measured for 17 days in a second group of rats implanted with mini-pumps containing MTII (1 mg/kg per day) or saline. RESULTS: HPF rats ate less (<50%) rat chow than RC rats. After 20 days, the HPF group had reached a plateau and weighed significantly more (p < 0.005) than the RC group (411.7 +/- 9.3 g; n = 17 vs. 365.1 +/- 9.4 g; n = 16). HPF rats and RC rats receiving MTII reduced their pellet intake and body weight in the initial 2 weeks of treatment (day 14, RC-saline: -1.6 +/- 1.8 g; RC-MTII, -22.5 +/- 3.7 g; HPF-saline, -7.1 +/- 1.7 g; HPF-MTII, -30.7 +/- 4.8 g). Subsequently, pellet intake returned to pre-implantation values, although body weights remained reduced in both HPF and RC groups. Oxygen consumption was increased in rats treated with MTII. DISCUSSION: This suggests that MTII initially reduced body weight by limiting food intake; however, maintenance of weight is most likely due to increased energy expenditure under conditions of normal and highly palatable diets in mature animals.
Department of Biochemistry, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri, USA. email@example.com
BACKGROUND: Previous studies have shown that the compact structure of a rhenium-cyclized alpha--melanocyte-stimulating hormone peptide analog, [Cys3410,D-Phe7]alpha-MSH(3--13), or Re-CCMSH, significantly enhanced its in vivo tumor uptake and retention. In this study, the metal chelate 1,4,7,10-tetraazacyclododecane-1,4,7,10-tetraacetic acid (DOTA) was coupled to the N-terminus of Re-CCMSH in order to develop a melanoma-targeting peptide that could be labeled with a wider variety of imaging and therapeutic radionuclides. METHODS: Biodistribution properties of indium-111 ((111)In)--labeled DOTA-Re-CCMSH were compared with the non-DOTA-containing technetium-99m ((99m)Tc)--CCMSH in murine melanoma--bearing C57 mice to determine the effects of DOTA on tumor uptake and whole-body clearance. The tumor targeting capacity and clearance kinetics of (111)In-DOTA-Re-CCMSH were also compared with other related cyclic and linear (111)In-labeled DOTA-alpha-MSH complexes. RESULTS: The in vivo distribution data showed that the conjugation of DOTA to Re-CCMSH did not reduce its initial tumor uptake kinetics but did enhance its tumor retention and renal clearance properties. The tumor uptake of (111)In-DOTA-Re-CCMSH was significantly higher than the other (111)In-DOTA--coupled cyclic or linear alpha-MSH analogs used in this study. Moreover, (111)In-DOTA-Re-CCMSH displayed lower radioactivity accumulation in normal tissues of interest than its non-Re-cyclized counterpart, (111)In-DOTA-CCMSH; the disulfide bond--cyclized (111)In-DOTA-CMSH; or the linear (111)In-DOTA-NDP. CONCLUSIONS: Peptide cyclization via rhenium coordination significantly enhanced the tumor targeting and renal clearance properties of DOTA-Re-CCMSH, making it an excellent candidate for melanoma radiodetection and radiotherapy. Copyright 2002 American Cancer Society.
School of Biological Sciences and Faculty of Medicine, Stopford Building, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PT, UK.
Bioactive peptides derived from the prohormone, pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC), are generated in neurons of the hypothalamus and act as endogenous ligands for the melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R), a key molecule underlying appetite control and energy homeostasis. It is therefore important to understand many aspects of POMC gene regulation in the brain, as pharmacological manipulation of POMC expression/processing could be a potential strategy to combat obesity. Most studies that have analysed POMC gene expression in the hypothalamus have focused on gene transcription experiments. Ultimately, however, factors that regulate post-translational processing and secretion of peptides will have most bearing on melanocortin signalling. This article focuses on (a) current evidence that POMC is involved in obesity, (b) how POMC transcription is regulated in the hypothalamus, (c) the mechanism by which proteolytic processing of POMC is controlled in the hypothalamus and what peptides are produced and (d) which POMC-derived peptides are the most potent ligands at the melanocortin receptor in vitro and in vivo. It seems that post-translational cleavage of POMC in the hypothalamus may be regulated with respect to energy requirement. We predict that further research into hypothalamic POMC processing, and the proteolytic enzymes involved, may yield important new clues on how flux through the MC4R pathway is regulated.
Division of Pediatric Endocrinology, Department of Pediatrics, Oregon Health Science University, Portland 97201, USA. Bostonbr@OHSU.edu
Significant progress in our understanding of the mechanisms of weight homeostasis has been made by studying the many genetic mouse models of obesity. Positional cloning in the obese mouse led to the discovery of leptin as a feedback messenger indicating the adequacy of peripheral energy stores. This was the first in a series of important advances in this field. Shortly after this discovery, two research laboratories presented evidence for the role of hypothalamic pro-opiomelanocortinergic (POMC) neurons as important mediators in the regulation of feeding behavior, insulin levels and, ultimately, body weight. One of these mouse obesity models, the lethal yellow mouse, constitutively overexpresses the agouti protein, an endogenous antagonist of both the melanocortin 1 (MC1) and melanocortin 4 (MC4) receptors. A second mouse obesity model was created by knocking out the MC4 receptor. Investigations using both the autosomal dominant lethal yellow mouse and MC4 receptor knockout mouse have provided clear evidence for the role of hypothalamic POMC neurons and the MC4 receptor in the regulation of weight homeostasis in the rodent. Furthermore, the recent discovery of agouti-related protein (AGRP), an agouti-like peptide naturally found in the hypothalamus, provides further evidence for the importance of POMC neurons in the regulation of weight. Although the significance of central POMC and AGRP in the rodent is apparent, the role of POMC neurons in the regulation of weight and feeding behavior in humans is only now being appreciated.
Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6021, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
In mice and humans, binding of alpha-melanocyte--stimulating hormone to the melanocyte-stimulating--hormone receptor (MSHR), the protein product of melanocortin-1 receptor (MC1R) gene, leads to the synthesis of eumelanin. In the mouse, ligation of MSHR by agouti signaling protein (ASP) results in the production of pheomelanin. The role of ASP in humans is unclear. We sought to characterize the agouti signaling protein gene (ASIP) in a group of white subjects, to assess whether ASIP was a determinant of human pigmentation and whether this gene may be associated with increased melanoma risk. We found no evidence of coding-region sequence variation in ASIP, but detected a g.8818A-->G polymorphism in the 3' untranslated region. We genotyped 746 participants in a study of melanoma susceptibility for g.8818A-->G, by means of polymerase chain reaction and restriction fragment--length polymorphism analysis. Among the 147 healthy controls, the frequency of the G allele was.12. Carriage of the G allele was significantly associated with dark hair (odds ratio 1.8; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.2--2.8) and brown eyes (odds ratio 1.9; 95% CI 1.3--2.8) after adjusting for age, gender, and disease status. ASIP g.8818A-->G was not associated independently with disease status. This is the first report of an association of ASIP with specific human pigmentation characteristics. It remains to be investigated whether the interaction of MC1R and ASIP can enhance prediction of human pigmentation and melanoma risk.
Schepens Eye Research Institute and Department of Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA. email@example.com
Recently, we have found that the neuropeptide alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH) not only suppresses IFN-gamma production, but also induces TGF-beta1 production by activated effector T cells. These alpha-MSH- treated effector T cells function as regulatory T cells in that they suppress IFN-gamma production and hypersensitivity mediated by other effector T cells. Experimental autoimmune uveoretinitis (EAU) was suppressed in its severity and incidence in mice that were injected with primed T cells activated in vitro by APC and antigen in the presence of alpha-MSH. Moreover, it appeared that alpha-MSH had converted a population of effector T cells polarized to mediate hypersensitivity into a population of T cells that now mediated immunoregulation. To characterize these alpha-MSH- treated T cells, primed T cells were TCR-stimulated in the presence of alpha-MSH in vitro and their lymphokine profile was examined. Such effector T cells displayed enhanced levels of TGF-beta1 production and no IFN-gamma or IL-10, with IL-4 levels remaining unchanged in comparison with inactivated T cells. In addition, if soluble TGF-beta receptor II was added to cocultures of alpha-MSH-treated T cells and activated Th1 cells, the alpha-MSH-treated T cells could not suppress IFN-gamma production by the Th1 cells. These results suggest that alpha-MSH induces T cells with a regulatory lymphokine pattern, and that through their production of TGF-beta1 these cells suppress other effector T cells. Examination of the alpha-MSH-treated T cells showed that alpha-MSH did not alter the phosphorylation of CD3 molecules following TCR engagement. Primed T cells express the melanocortin 5 receptor (MC5r), a receptor that is linked to an intracellular signalling pathway shared by other cytokine receptors. Blocking the receptor with antibody prevented alpha-MSH from suppressing IFN-gamma production by the activated regulatory T cells, suggesting that alpha-MSH immunoregulation is through the MC5r on primed T cells. Surface staining and cell sorting of the alpha-MSH- treated primed T cells showed that the regulatory T cells are CD25+ CD4+ T cells. From these results we find that alpha-MSH can mediate the induction of CD25+ CD4+ regulatory T cells. These regulatory T cells require specific antigen for activation, but through non-specific TGF-beta1-mediated mechanisms they can suppress other effector T cells.
Department of Urology, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California Beverly Hills, California, USA.
Oral drugs are a well-established, first-line therapy for erectile dysfunction. As a result of the success of sildenafil, a plethora of new drugs for erectile dysfunction are on the horizon. Apomorphine and IC351 are in late phase III development. Vardenafil (Bayer, New Haven, CT), a PDE5 inhibitor, and the combination of yohimbine and L-arginine (NitroMed, Boston, MA) are in early phase III development. Early clinical and preclinical studies are investigating new phosphodiesterase inhibitors, cyclic AMP activators, alpha-adrenergic antagonists, dopamine agonists, melanocyte-stimulating hormone, potassium channel modulators, endothelin antagonists, and new nitric oxide donors. The future is bright for this infant field of sexual pharmacotherapy.
Department of Biomedical Sciences, Section of Pharmacology, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy.
The influence of the melanocortin peptide ACTH-(1-24) (adrenocorticotropin) on the consequences of short-term coronary ischemia (5 min) followed by reperfusion, and the effect of the long-acting melanocortin [Nle(4),D-Phe(7)]alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (NDP-MSH) on the damage induced by a permanent coronary occlusion, were investigated in anesthetized rats. Ischemia was produced by ligature of the left anterior descending coronary artery. Reperfusion-induced arrhythmias [ventricular tachycardia (VT), ventricular fibrillation (VF)] and survival rate within the 5 min following reperfusion, blood levels of free radicals detected 2 min after reperfusion by electron spin resonance spectrometry, and amount of healthy myocardial tissue, measured 72 h after permanent coronary occlusion on immunohistologically stained serial sections, were evaluated. Postischemic reperfusion induced VT in all saline-treated rats, and VF and death in a high percentage of animals (87%). In rats treated i.v. (2.5 min after coronary occlusion) with ACTH-(1-24) (0.16-0.48 mg/kg) there was a significantly dose-dependent reduction in the incidence of arrhythmias and lethality. Ischemia/reperfusion caused a large increase in free radical blood levels; treatment with ACTH-(1-24) (0.48 mg/kg i.v.) almost completely prevented this increase. In rats subjected to permanent coronary occlusion, the amount of healthy myocardial tissue was much reduced in saline-treated rats, while in rats treated s.c. with NDP-MSH (0.27 mg/kg every 12 h) it was significantly higher. The present data demonstrate, for the first time, an unforeseen property of melanocortin peptides, i.e., their ability to significantly reduce both heart ischemia/reperfusion injury and size of the ischemic area induced by permanent coronary occlusion.
Department of Neurology, Klinikum Grosshadern, Ludwig-Maximilians University of Munich, Marchioninistrasse 15, 81377, Munchen, Germany.
Alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH) is an endogenous neuroimmunomodulatory peptide that can inhibit a broad range of inflammatory mediators known to be involved in the pathophysiology of bacterial meningitis. We evaluated the effect of alpha-MSH in a rat model of pneumococcal meningitis. Rats were intracisternally infected with Streptococcus pneumoniae and treatment was started 6 h after infection. Both systemic and intracisternal alpha-MSH failed to influence blood-brain barrier disruption, increased intracranial pressure, brain cytokine concentrations (IL-1beta, IL-6, TNF-alpha, MIP-2, and IL-10), CSF bacterial titers, and clinical parameters of disease severity (weight loss, body temperature, and blood pressure), although the treatment strongly increased the CNS concentrations of alpha-MSH. However, systemic but not intracisternal alpha-MSH slightly reduced the CNS leukocyte accumulation, indicating that leukocyte extravasation is inhibited by alpha-MSH from the blood side. Our results show that alpha-MSH reduces the CNS leukocyte accumulation by its systemic action, but does not attenuate meningitis-associated intracranial complications.
Schepens Eye Research Institute, Department of Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
The ocular microenvironment is an extreme example of regional immunity. Within its microenvironment, expression of delayed type hypersensitivity (DTH) is suppressed. This immunosuppression is mediated in part by the constitutive expression of alpha-MSH. Previously we have found that alpha-MSH suppresses the production of IFN-gamma by activated effector T cells. Recently we have found that alpha-MSH can mediate induction of TGF-beta-producing T cells that act as regulatory T cells. This has encouraged us to further examine the potential for alpha-MSH to suppress T cell-mediated inflammation (autoimmune disease) and to regulate lymphokine production by effector T cells. When alpha-MSH was injected i.v. into mice at the time of peak retinal inflammation, the severity of experimental autoimmune uveitis (EAU) was significantly suppressed. Effector T cells activated in vitro in the presence of alpha-MSH proliferated and produced IL-4 and enhanced levels of TGF-beta while their IFN-gamma and IL-10 production was suppressed. The alpha-MSH-treated T cells functioned as regulatory T cells by suppressing in vitro IFN-gamma production by other inflammatory T cells. This regulatory activity was the function of alpha-MSH-treated CD4+ CD25+ T cells. Therefore, alpha-MSH mediates immunosuppression by inducing a differential expression of lymphokine production and by inducing activation of regulatory functions in T cells. This implies that alpha-MSH may take part in regional mechanisms of immunosuppression and possibly peripheral tolerance. Thus, alpha-MSH can be used to suppress autoimmune disease and possibly reestablish tolerance to autoantigens.
Department of Pediatric Endocrinology, Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland 97201, USA.
Recent advances in our understanding of the regulation of body weight, appetite, and metabolic rate have highlighted the role of the adipose-derived hormone leptin and its receptor as fundamental modulators of these processes. Investigations of the neural targets for leptin action--as well as characterization of the agouti obesity syndrome--have, in turn, led to the discovery of fundamental neural pathways involved in the central regulation of energy homeostasis. In particular, the central melanocortin system has been shown to regulate appetite and metabolic rate in rodents; mutations in this system have been demonstrated to result in obesity in humans. Overall, the melanocortin system appears to function as a bidirectional rheostat in the regulation of energy intake and expenditure in rodents and potentially in humans. The first section of this chapter will focus on the development of our understanding of melanocortin physiology in the context of obesity. In particular, recent data regarding the interplay between melanocortin and neuropeptide Y (NPY) signaling at a cellular level will be discussed. The following section will discuss the hypothesis that melanocortin signaling plays a role in pathological weight loss and hypermetabolism observed in murine cachexia models. The potential role of this system in integrating a variety of anorexic and cachexic signals, as well as the potential for its pharmacological manipulation in the treatment of human cachexia, will be discussed.
HHMI/Stanford University, Beckman Center RM B281, 270, Campus drive, Stanford, CA, USA. Karine.email@example.com
The cloning of five rodent obesity genes has constituted a major advance in our understanding of body weight homeostasis. Breakthroughs in human molecular genetics have identified mutations disrupting either rodent homologue/analogue genes or genes involved in the same pathways in obese patients. Three rare cases of human morbid obesity of early onset associated with hypogodatropic hypogodanism are due to mutations in the leptin and the leptin receptor genes. These studies have confirmed that leptin plays not only a crucial role in the control of body weight in the human but also in several endocrine functions. Other Human obesity syndromes are linked to mutations in the genes encoding brain-expressed targets of leptin, particularly some key components of the melanocortin system. Patients compound heterozygous for mutations in the POMC gene display severe obesity of early onset, congenital adrenal insufficiency and red hair. Another genetic cause of obesity is due to mutation in the Proconvertase gene (PC1), the enzyme required for the cleavage of POMC into ACTH and alpha MSH, and also of Proinsulin to insulin. The subject compound heterozygous for the PC1 mutation displays besides obesity, a partial ACTH deficiency, elevated POMC and late post absorptive hypoglycemia due to the accumulation of high pro-insulinemia. Contrasting largely with these rare syndromic forms of obesity, several mutations located in the melanocortin 4 receptor gene have been showed to cause an early onset dominant form of obesity with no other associated abnormalities indifferent populations. These mutations in MC4-R could represent a "frequent" cause of common monogenic forms of obesity in human. More generally, these researches into human obesity have opened new exciting understandings in some of the pathways regulating body fat mass.
Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, Metabolism and Molecular Medicine, Department of Medicine, Tupper Research Institute, Tufts University School of Medicine and New England Medical Center, Boston, MA 02111, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
Fever is the hallmark of the stereotyped host response to microbial infection, although it is just one of a number of high-risk strategies employed by the infected host to clear itself of invading pathogens. The febrile response is accompanied by activation of multiple endogenous antipyretic systems that serve to suppress its magnitude or duration. These include neuroactive substances of neural and humoral origin, some of which (e.g., glucocorticoids, melanocortins, and IL-10) have broad-ranging anti-inflammatory actions. Glucocorticoids, vasopressin, and melanocortins appear to exert their antipyretic effects by acting on receptors within the brain, but beyond this the mechanisms involved are unknown. It is hypothesized, but not proven, that endogenous antipyretic systems protect the host against the destructive consequences of unchecked fever. Importantly, pharmacological blockade of the actions of endogenous antipyretic systems increases fevers of even low to moderate intensity. Therefore, in addition to protecting against catastrophic consequences of high fever, endogenous antipyretic systems seem to play a fundamental physiological role in determining the normal course of fever. Elucidating the neural and biochemical mechanisms involved in suppression of fever by physiological antipyretic systems will yield a rich benefit, both by advancing the basic understanding of host defense strategies, and by permitting the design of novel antipyretic and anti-inflammatory strategies for therapeutic intervention in human disease.
Third Division of Internal Medicine, Padiglione Granelli, Ospedale Maggiore di Milano IRCCS, Via F. Sforza 35, 20122 Milan, Italy. email@example.com
Over the past two decades, research in animal models has indicated that alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH) has potent anti-inflammatory properties. Furthermore, recent data show that the peptide has antimicrobial effects and probably contributes to innate immunity. alpha-MSH, which is produced by many extrapituitary human cells, should no longer be considered solely a pituitary hormone; rather, it should be viewed as a ubiquitous modulatory peptide.
Third Division of Internal Medicine, Ospedale Maggiore di Milano IRCCS, Milan, Italy.
OBJECTIVES: The aim of this research was to investigate endogenous concentrations and anti-cytokine effects of the antiinflammatory peptide alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH) in patients with systemic inflammation. The objectives were to determine the following: changes over time of plasma alpha-MSH and relationship with patient outcome, correlation between plasma alpha-MSH and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha plasma concentration and production in whole blood samples, and influences of alpha-MSH on production of TNF-alpha and interleukin (IL)-1beta in whole blood samples stimulated with lipopolysaccharide (LPS). DESIGN: Prospective, nonrandomized, clinical study. SETTING: Intensive care unit of a university hospital. PATIENTS: A total of 21 patients with sepsis syndrome/septic shock and an equal number of healthy volunteers. INTERVENTIONS: Circulating alpha-MSH and TNF-alpha concentrations and TNF-alpha production in supernatants of LPS (1 ng/mL)-stimulated whole blood were measured repeatedly. To determine whether alpha-MSH can modulate production of TNF-alpha and IL-1 beta, these cytokines were measured in whole blood samples stimulated with LPS (1 ng/mL) in the presence or absence of concentrations of the peptide. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Plasma alpha-MSH was low in early samples and gradually increased in patients who recovered but not in those who died. There was a negative correlation between plasma concentrations of alpha-MSH and TNF-alpha. In blood samples taken at early phases of sepsis syndrome, production of TNF-alpha was reduced relative to control values; such production increased in patients who recovered but not in those who died. Addition of alpha-MSH to LPS-stimulated whole blood samples inhibited production of TNF-alpha and IL-1beta in a concentration-dependent manner. CONCLUSIONS: In patients with systemic inflammation, there are substantial changes over time in plasma concentrations of alpha-MSH that are reduced in early phases of the disease. Reduction of this endogenous modulator of inflammation could be detrimental to the host. Addition of alpha-MSH to LPS-stimulated blood samples reduces production of cytokines involved in development of septic syndrome. This inhibition by alpha-MSH, a peptide that is beneficial in treatment of experimental models of sepsis, might therefore be useful to treat sepsis syndrome in humans.
Rudolf Magnus Institute for Neurosciences, Department of Medical Pharmacology, Utrecht University, The Netherlands.
For several decades melanocortins have been implicated in the modulation of brain function. More recently, this idea has been supported by the identification and cloning of melanocortin (MC) receptors in the nervous system. MCs stimulate axonal growth in fetal neural tissue or in neural cell lines in culture. This feature was utilized in screening their neurotrophic or neuroprotection potential in animal studies of nervous system disease (peripheral nerve and spinal cord trauma, toxic and metabolic neuropathies, EAN, EAE, etc.). Some of these effects may be mediated by MC4 receptor activation, although as yet unknown receptors may also be involved (for instance, protection by Org 2766). To what extent MC-nervous system effects are related to known effects of MCs in skin- and neuro-immune systems, remains to be discovered. Nevertheless, it is of interest to note that activation of brain MC4 receptors profoundly affects care behavior for the body surface (skin and fur). The excessive grooming response in rodents exhibits a remarkable functional correlation with MSH activity in a brain-skin axis.
Department of Physiology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, Dallas, USA.
The neuropeptide alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH) modulates inflammation by inhibiting production of proinflammatory cytokines. Using a plasmid vector encoding alpha-MSH, we examined whether autocrine alpha-MSH inhibits activation of the nuclear transcription factor NF-kappaB, a factor that is essential to expression of proinflammatory cytokines, in human glioma cells (A-172). Electrophoretic mobility shift assays of nuclear extracts demonstrated that NF-kappaB activation induced by lipopolysaccharide was inhibited in glioma cells transfected with alpha-MSH vector. Western blot analysis revealed that this inhibition was linked to preservation of expression of IkappaBalpha protein. Chloramphenicol acetyltransferase assay indicated that NF-kappaB-dependent reporter gene expression was suppressed in A-172 cells transfected with alpha-MSH vector. Finally, fluorescence staining confirmed that A-172 cells bear alpha-MSH receptors. The findings are consistent with the idea that, in central nervous system (CNS) inflammation, autocrine alpha-MSH exerts anti-inflammatory actions via modulation of NF-kappaB activation by preservation of IkappaBalpha protein. Based on this action of the peptide, it should be possible to treat neurodegenerative disease, stroke, encephalitis, trauma, and other CNS disorders that have an inflammatory component through gene therapy with alpha-MSH vector. Copyright 1999 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Department of Nutrition and Agricultural Experiment Station, University of Tennessee, Knoxville 37996-1900, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
The yellow mouse obesity syndrome is due to dominant mutations at the Agouti locus, which is characterized by obesity, hyperinsulinemia, insulin resistance, hyperglycemia, hyperleptinemia, increased linear growth, and yellow coat color. This syndrome is caused by ectopic expression of Agouti in multiple tissues. Mechanisms of Agouti action in obesity seem to involve, at least in part, competitive melanocortin antagonism. Both central and peripheral effects have been implicated in Agouti-induced obesity. An Agouti-Related Protein (AGRP) has been described recently. It has been shown to be expressed in mice hypothalamus and to act similarly to agouti as a potent antagonist to central melanocortin receptor MC4-R, suggesting that AGRP is an endogenous MC4-R ligand. Mice lacking MC4-R become hyperphagic and develop obesity, implying that agouti may lead to obesity by interfering with MC4-R signaling in the brain and consequently regulating food intake. Furthermore, food intake is inhibited by intracerebroventricular injection of a potent melanocortin agonist and was reversed by administration of an MC4-R antagonist. The direct cellular actions of Agouti include stimulation of fatty acid and triglyceride synthesis via a Ca(2+)-dependent mechanism. Agouti and insulin act in an additive manner to increase lipogenesis. This additive effect of agouti and insulin is demonstrated by the necessity of insulin in eliciting weight gain in transgenic mice expressing agouti specifically in adipose tissue. This suggests that agouti expression in adipose tissue combined with hyperinsulinemia may lead to increased adiposity. The roles of melanocortin receptors or agouti-specific receptor(s) in agouti regulation of adipocyte metabolism and other peripheral effects remain to be determined. In conclusion, both central and peripheral actions of agouti contribute to the yellow mouse obesity syndrome and this action is mediated at least in part by antagonism with melanocortin receptors and/or regulation of intracellular calcium.
Department of Physiology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, 75235-9040, USA.
With the rise in the field of neuroimmunomodulation research, there is increased recognition of the influence of the nervous system and neuropeptides in peripheral disease. The neuropeptide alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH) is a neuroimmunomodulatory agent that modulates production of proinflammatory cytokines and inhibits peripheral inflammation via actions on CNS receptors. We examined whether central alpha-MSH operates by inhibiting activation of the nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kappaB) that is essential to the expression of proinflammatory cytokines and development of inflammation in the periphery. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays of nuclear extracts from the murine foot pad injected with TNF-alpha demonstrated that centrally administered alpha-MSH does inhibit NF-kappaB activation. Western blot analysis revealed that this inhibition was linked to central alpha-MSH-induced preservation of expression of IkappaBalpha protein in the peripheral tissue. The NF-kappaB and IkappaBalpha effects were inhibited in mice with spinal cord transection. Intraperitoneal (i.p.) injection of the nonspecific beta-adrenergic receptor blocker propranolol, and of a specific beta2-adrenergic receptor antagonist, likewise prevented these effects of central alpha-MSH; blockade of cholinergic, alpha-adrenergic, or beta1-adrenergic receptors did not. Centrally administered alpha-MSH inhibited peripheral NF-kappaB activation and IkappaBalpha degradation even in mice with nonfunctional melanocortin 1 receptors (MC1R). These findings indicate that alpha-MSH can act centrally to inhibit NF-kappaB activation in peripheral acute inflammation via a descending neural pathway. The pathway involves beta2-adrenergic receptors, but does not require activation of MC1R within the brain.
Department of Pathology, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
Microsatellite instability (MSI) and frameshift mutations in genes containing nucleotide repeats have been reported in a subset of gastric carcinomas, but the mutational profiles in precancerous lesions have not been characterized. To characterize the genetic events during gastric carcinogenesis, we analyzed DNA from 56 gastric adenomas and 167 gastric carcinomas for MSI using five microsatellite markers and for frameshift mutations at coding nucleotide repeats of the type II transforming growth factor beta receptor, BAX, hMSH3, hMSH6, IGF II receptor, and E2F-4 genes. On the basis of the number of markers displaying instability per tumor, the tumors were divided into three groups: those with two or more of the five markers showing instability (high MSI [MSI-H]), those with one of the five markers showing instability (low MSI [MSI-L]), and those with no instability. MSI-H was found in 8 adenomas (14%) and 19 carcinomas (11%), and MSI-L was found in 8 adenomas (14%) and 9 carcinomas (5%). These groups were tested for correlations with several clinicopathologic parameters. MSI-H gastric adenomas were related to the high histologic grade of composing dysplastic glands (p = 0.004), and MSI-H gastric carcinomas were associated with exophytic tumor growth (p = 0.005). We found 48 frameshift mutations at coding nucleotide repeats of the six genes, and all mutations except one were found in MSI-H gastric tumors. Only one of the 17 MSI-L tumors showed frameshift mutations at coding nucleotide repeats of the transforming growth factor beta receptor II gene. Compared with MSI-H gastric carcinomas, MSI-H adenomas had no mutations in the hMSH6 and the IGF II receptor genes, less frequent mutations in the transforming growth factor beta receptor II (38% versus 63%), BAX (13% versus 37%), and hMSH3 (13% versus 37%) genes, and more frequent mutations in the E2F-4 (50% versus 37%) gene. Our findings suggest that MSI and E2F-4 mutations are early genetic events and that mutations of the other five genes are accumulated during the progression of gastric carcinomas with MSI.
Institute of Neurology, Dino Ferrari Center, Milan, 20122, Italy.
Alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH) is an ancient tridecapeptide with potent inhibitory activity in all major forms of inflammation. The anti-inflammatory message sequence of alpha-MSH resides in the COOH-terminal tripeptide alpha-MSH[11-13]. We tested the influence of alpha-MSH[1-13] and of alpha-MSH[11-13] in a cultured murine microglia cell line known to produce nitric oxide (NO(-)(2)) and tumor necrosis factor (TNFalpha) when stimulated with beta-amyloid protein (Abeta). Melanocortin peptides significantly inhibited release of both NO(-)(2) and TNFalpha into cell-free supernatants from microglia stimulated with Abeta[1-42] or Abeta[25-35] peptides and interferon gamma (IFNgamma). Northern blot analysis demonstrated that alpha-MSH[1-13] and alpha-MSH[11-13] inhibited accumulation of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and TNFalpha mRNA was triggered by Abeta stimulation. Abeta/microglial interaction is believed to promote the progression of inflammatory and neurodegenerative changes in senile plaques in Alzheimer's disease. Our data indicate that alpha-MSH peptides might be used to modulate the local response of the brain to Abeta deposition in this neurodegenerative disease. Copyright 1999 Academic Press.
Unit on Molecular Genetics, Clinical Neuroscience Branch, NIMH, 49 Convent Drive, Bethesda, Maryland 20892,USA.
Pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC)-derived peptides (the melanocortins adrenocorticotropin, alpha-, beta- and gamma-melanocyte stimulating hormone; and the endogenous opioid beta-endorphin) have a diverse array of biological activities, including roles in pigmentation, adrenocortical function and regulation of energy stores, and in the immune system and the central and peripheral nervous systems. We show here that mice lacking the POMC-derived peptides have obesity, defective adrenal development and altered pigmentation. This phenotype is similar to that of the recently identified human POMC-deficient patients. When treated with a stable alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone agonist, mutant mice lost more than 40% of their excess weight after 2 weeks. Our results identify the POMC-null mutant mouse as a model for studying the human POMC-null syndrome, and indicate the therapeutic use of peripheral melanocortin in the treatment of obesity.
Institute of Endocrinology, Clinical Centre of Serbia, Military Medicine Academy, Belgrade, Yugoslavia.
A case of chronic primary adrenal insufficiency without hyperpigmentation in a 64-year-old woman is reported. Due to the absence of hyperpigmentation the diagnosis was delayed and she became critically ill. During endocrine evaluation, in order to investigate the mechanism responsible for the absence of hyperpigmentation, skin biopsy was done and hormones responsible for the skin pigmentation were measured. Absence of hyperpigmentation is explained by high degree of melanosome degradation in secondary lysosomes called "compound melanosomes", which overwhelmed increased stimulation of the skin pigmentation. Melanocyte-stimulating hormones were elevated with a strikingly high beta-LPH/ACTH ratio. To our knowledge, this is the first study of pathogenic mechanisms responsible for the absence of hyperpigmentation in white Addison's disease.
Department of Neurology, Rudolf Magnus Institute for Neurosciences, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands. email@example.com
Peptides related to melanotropin (alphaMSH) and corticotropin (ACTH), collectively termed melanocortins, are known to improve the postlesion repair of injured peripheral nerves. In addition, melanocortins exert trophic effects on the outgrowth of neurites from central nervous system neurons in vitro. Here we report, for the first time, the stimulation by alpha-MSH of spinal neurite outgrowth in vivo after injury. In the in vivo model, spinal cord trauma was produced at lower thoracic spinal levels of adult rats. Under a surgical microscope a laminectomy was performed exposing the dorsum of the spinal cord. Then the dura was cut longitudinally and the dorsal columns were identified. Iridectomy scissors were used to transect the dorsal half of the spinal cord bilaterally, thereby completely lesioning the main corticospinal tract component. Then the lesion gap was immediately filled with a solid collagen matrix. Ingrowth of fibers was quantified using an advanced image analyser using a video image of sections transmitted by a camera. In the control situation virtually no ingrowth of sprouting injured fibers into the collagen implant in the lesion gap was seen. However, when the collagen matrix contained 10(-8) M alpha-MSH, a profound and significant stimulation of fiber ingrowth into the implant was observed (alpha-MSH, 21.5 +/- 2.9%; control, 1.4 +/- 0.6% p < 0.01). A small percentage of these ingrowing fibers was CGRP-immunoreactive (17.0 +/- 4%), whereas no serotonergic ingrowth was observed. Furthermore, we found that local application of alpha-MSH directs a substantial amount of lesioned anterogradely labelled corticospinal tract axons to regrow into the collagen implant (alpha-MSH, 15.2 +/- 5.2%; control, 0.5 +/- 0.3%, p < 0.01). The observed fiber ingrowth is not accompanied by an invasion of astroglial or reactive microglial cells into the implant. In conclusion, inclusion of alpha-MSH in the collagen implant stimulates the regrowth of injured axons in the adult rat spinal cord.
Department of Physiology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, 5323 Harry Hines Boulevard, Dallas, Texas, 75235-9040, USA.
The neuropeptide alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH) modulates production of proinflammatory cytokines in brain tissue and in peripheral inflammatory cells. Transcription of the genes for these proinflammatory cytokines is regulated by the nuclear factor kappaB (NF-kappaB). NF-kappaB is also activated by proinflammatory cytokines. Degradation of the cytoplasmic inhibitor IkappaBalpha protein results in activation of NF-kappaB. Because of increasing evidence that NF-kappaB is involved in brain injury and inflammation and neurodegenerative disease, we examined whether alpha-MSH inhibits activation of NF-kappaB and limits degradation of IkappaBalpha protein induced by lipopolysaccharide (LPS) in human glioma cells (A-172) and in mouse brain. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays of nuclear extracts from A-172 cells and whole mouse brains stimulated with LPS revealed that alpha-MSH does suppress NF-kappaB activation. Western blot analysis demonstrated that alpha-MSH preserved expression of IkappaBalpha protein in vitro (glioma cells) and in vivo (brain tissue). Chloramphenicol acetyltransferase assay indicated that alpha-MSH suppresses NF-kappaB-dependent reporter gene expression induced by LPS in A-172 cells. The findings are consistent with the possibility that the anti-inflammatory action of alpha-MSH in CNS inflammation occurs via modulation of NF-kappaB activation by peptide-induced inhibition of degradation of IkappaBalpha protein. Copyright 1999 Academic Press.
William Harvey Research Institute, London, United Kingdom.
To investigate the relevance of adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) therapy in human gouty arthritis, we have tested the effect of several ACTH-related peptides in a murine model of experimental gout. Systemic treatment of mice with ACTH4-10 (MEHFRWG) (10-200 microgram s. c.) inhibited neutrophil accumulation without altering peripheral blood cell counts or circulating corticosterone levels. A similar effect was seen with alpha- and beta-melanocyte stimulating hormones (1-30 microgram s.c.). In vivo release of the chemokine KC-(detected in the lavage fluids before maximal influx of neutrophils) was significantly reduced (-50 to -60%) by ACTH4-10. Macrophage activation in vitro, determined as phagocytosis and KC release, was inhibited by ACTH and ACTH4-10 with approximate IC50 values of 30 nM and 100 microM, respectively. The melanocortin receptor type 3/4 antagonist SHU9119 prevented the inhibitory actions of ACTH4-10 both in vitro and in vivo. However, melanocortin type 3, but not type 4, receptor mRNA was detected in mouse peritoneal macrophages by RT-PCR. Therefore, we propose that activation of this receptor type by ACTH4-10 and related amino acid sequences attenuates KC release (and possibly production of other cytokines) from macrophages with consequent inhibition of the host inflammatory response, thus providing a notional anti-inflammatory mechanism for ACTH that is unrelated to stimulation of glucocorticoid release.
Department of Medical Pharmacology, Rudolf Magnus Institute for Neurosciences, Utrecht University, The Netherlands.
Melanocortins, peptides related to alpha-melanocortin-stimulating hormone (alpha MSH) and adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), are known to improve axonal regeneration following peripheral nerve injury and stimulate neurite outgrowth from central nervous system (CNS) neurons both in vitro and in vivo. The neurite outgrowth promoting capacity of alpha MSH has prompted us to investigate the effects of intrathecal application of alpha MSH on functional and electrophysiological recovery in a well-characterized model of spinal cord contusion injury. Different doses of alpha MSH were applied via osmotic minipumps into the cisterna magna for 10 days, thereby delivering the peptide directly into the CNS. Functional recovery was monitored during 8 postoperative weeks by means of the Basso, Beattie, and Bresnahan locomotor rating scale, and the thoracolumbar height test. At the end of the study, electrophysiological analysis of rubrospinal motor evoked potentials as performed. Our data showed that application of 3.75 micrograms/kg/h alpha MSH resulted in a marked functional recovery, accompanied by a decrease in the latency of the rMEP. This study demonstrates that intrathecal application of alpha MSH results in functional recovery after spinal cord contusion injury. These findings may initiate new treatment strategies and/or the use of melanocortins in human spinal cord injury.
Third Division of Internal Medicine, Ospedale Maggiore di Milano IRCCS, Italy.
To determine whether concentrations of the anti-inflammatory peptide alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH) are associated with accelerated or reduced disease progression in patients with HIV infection, plasma concentrations of alpha-MSH and two other anticytokine molecules, interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1 ra) and soluble tumor necrosis factor receptor (s TNF r), were taken repeatedly from HIV-positive patients over a 1-year period. Samples from 87 patients were collected by using special precautions to ensure accurate measurement of the peptide. Alpha-MSH concentrations were determined by radioimmunoassay; IL-1 ra and s TNF r concentrations were measured by using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays. Clinical and immunologic variables were recorded to determine whether there is an association between cytokine antagonist concentrations and disease progression. Elevated concentrations of circulating alpha-MSH were associated with reduced progression of the disease. Circulating alpha-MSH was greater in non-progressors than in progressors; the association between elevated alpha-MSH and reduced disease progression was even more pronounced in patients with baseline CD4+ T cell counts less than 200/microL. No such association was observed for the other two anticytokine molecules, and there was no significant correlation between the plasma concentration of either cytokine antagonist and alpha-MSH. The present evidence and previous findings indicate that elevated concentrations of alpha-MSH are associated with reduced disease progression in HIV-infected patients.
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, Dallas, Tex., USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
It is clear that inflammatory processes contribute to neurodegenerative disease, stroke, closed head injury, encephalitis, and other CNS disorders. These inflammatory processes are marked by local increases in cytokines, in particular tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha). It is important to control such CNS inflammation in order to preserve neural function. The neuroimmunomodulatory peptide alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH) has been shown to modulate peripheral inflammation by acting on melanocortin receptors in host cells (macrophages, neutrophils) to inhibit production of such proinflammatory agents. Our results indicate that alpha-MSH likewise acts directly within the brain to modulate local inflammation. To determine if microglia are involved in anti-inflammatory responses to alpha-MSH within the brain, murine cells were tested; they produced TNF-alpha and nitric oxide in response to challenge, and production of both was reduced by alpha-MSH. In tests on human astrocytes, both alpha-MSH (1-13) and alpha-MSH (11-13) reduced TNF-alpha. Ischemia/reperfusion in the posterior circulation in dogs causes inflammatory reactions and disturbance of function, estimated from decreases in auditory-evoked potentials. These deficits were reduced by administering alpha-MSH systemically during reperfusion, moreso when the peptide was given during both ischemia and reperfusion. The results indicate that, much as for inflammation in the periphery, alpha-MSH modulates brain inflammatory responses mediated by proinflammatory agents.
Center for Pathology and Molecular Medicine, School of Postgraduate Medicine, Keele University, North Staffordshire Hospital, Stoke-on-Trent, UK.
Allelic variation at the melanocyte stimulating hormone receptor (MC1R) gene has been linked with sun-sensitive skin types, suggesting it is a susceptibility candidate for melanoma. We determined the frequency of the val92met, asp294his, and asp84glu MC1R alleles in 190 Caucasian controls and 306 melanoma cases and studied their association with skin type and hair color. The percentage of controls with at least one val92met, asp294his, or asp84glu allele was 17.3%, 6.8%, and 3.5%, respectively. Individually, frequencies of the val92met, asp294his, or asp84glu alleles in the controls with skin types 3 and 4 were similar to those with skin types 1 and 2. Trend analysis, however, did identify an association (exact p = 0.048, two-sided test) between skin type and MC1R variants in the group comprising all controls with any one or more of these alleles. There was no association between MC1R alleles and hair color. Allele frequencies were not different in melanoma cases and controls. There were no associations between skin types and the proportion of cases with the asp294his or asp84glu alleles, though the association between skin type and the val92met allele approached significance (exact p = 0.09, two-sided test). Unexpectedly, in the group comprising all cases with one or more variant alleles, the proportion of subjects with variant alleles increased with skin types associated with tanning rather than burning, although trend analysis showed that this association did not quite reach statistical significance (exact p = 0.08, two-sided test). Asp84glu (but not val92met or asp294his) variant alleles were more common in subjects with blonde hair, although the relationship between the asp84glu allele and hair color did not achieve statistical significance (chi(2)3 = 6.16, exact p = 0.10). We interpret the data presented as indicating that polymorphism at MC1R does not appear a major determinant of skin type, at least in terms of these allelic variants. Furthermore, considered alone, these alleles are not susceptibility candidates for malignant melanoma.
Department of Internal Medicine, University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, Dallas, USA.
alpha-Melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH) is an endogenous anti-inflammatory cytokine that inhibits all major forms of inflammation, alpha-MSH level is increased at sites of inflammation in humans, and is produced in the pituitary and in macrophages. The effects of alpha-MSH are mediated by melanocortin receptors found on macrophages, neutrophils, and renal tubules. alpha-MSH inhibited ischemic acute renal failure in mice and rats, even when started 6 h after injury. alpha-MSH acts, in part, by inhibiting the maladaptive activation of genes that cause inflammatory and cytotoxic renal injury. However, alpha-MSH is effective even in the absence of neutrophils, suggesting that alpha-MSH also acts directly on renal tubules.
Third Division of Internal Medicine, IRCCS Ospedale Maggiore di Milano, Italy. email@example.com
We measured plasma concentration of alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH), a proopiomelanocortin derivative that modulates pyrogenic and proinflammatory effects of cytokines, in infectious and inflammatory disorders in humans to learn if changes in this peptide take place in naturally occurring disease. alpha-MSH was elevated in HIV-infected patients of the CDC groups III and IV. Although the peptide increased in the circulation of normal subjects injected with endotoxin, it was reduced in patients with septic syndrome. alpha-MSH was found in the synovial fluid of arthritis patients, and its concentration was greater in the forms of arthritis marked by greater inflammation. We found that alpha-MSH is increased in the circulation of patients with acute myocardial infarction receiving thrombolytic therapy. Plasma concentrations of alpha-MSH is increased in the circulation of patients with acute myocardial infarction receiving thrombolytic therapy. Plasma concentrations of alpha-MSH were lower in healthy elderly subjects than in young controls. Because an excess of proinflammatory cytokines can have detrimental effects, we investigated the influences of alpha-MSH on the production of interleukin-1 (IL-1) and tumor necrosis factor (TNF) in HIV-infected patients and in patients with septic syndrome. Production of these cytokines in whole-blood samples stimulated with endotoxin was significantly reduced by treatment of blood with alpha-MSH. alpha-MSH has been injected into at least 106 human subjects to study its effects on pituitary function, menstrual bleeding, and tanning. The peptide was always well tolerated. alpha-MSH administration could open new perspectives in treatment of inflammatory diseases in humans.
Department of Physiology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas 75235-9040, USA. JLipto@MEDNET.SWMED.EDU
The antiinflammatory effects of alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH) molecules, specifically alpha-MSH(1-13) and its COOH-terminal tripeptide alpha-MSH(11-13), are well established. The peptides have been effective in tests of all major models of inflammation, and more recent tests have been extended to include experimental inflammatory bowel disease, CNS ischemia/reperfusion injury, and bacterial endotoxin-induced inflammation within the brain. The broad effectiveness of alpha-MSH molecules in all major types of inflammation indicates that the peptides exert actions that are very basic to the inflammatory process. Three general mechanisms of antiinflammatory action of alpha-MSH molecules have been identified: inhibition of production of inflammatory mediators by, or inhibition of inflammatory actions of, peripheral host cells; inhibition of peripheral inflammation induced by actions on melanocortin receptors within the brain; inhibition of CNS inflammation by local action of the peptides. It appears that alpha-MSH molecules have multiple actions that modulate the primitive inflammatory response.
III Division of Internal Medicine, IRCCS Ospedale Maggiore, Milano, Italy.
Inflammatory processes contribute to neurodegenerative disease, stroke, encephalitis, and other central nervous system (CNS) disorders. Activated microglia are a source of cytokines and other inflammatory agents within the CNS and it is therefore important to control glial function in order to preserve neural cells. Melanocortin peptides are pro-opiomelanocortin-derived amino acid sequences that include alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH) and adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). These peptides have potent and broad anti-inflammatory effects. We tested effects of alpha-MSH (1-13), alpha-MSH (11-13), and ACTH (1-24) on production of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and nitric oxide (NO) in a cultured murine microglial cell line (N9) stimulated with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) plus interferon gamma (IFN-gamma). Melanocortin peptides inhibited production of these cytokines and NO in a concentration-related fashion, probably by increasing intracellular cAMP. When stimulated with LPS + IFN-gamma, microglia increased release of alpha-MSH. Production of TNF-alpha, IL-6, and NO was greater in activated microglia after innmunoneutralization of endogenous alpha-MSH. The results suggest that alpha-MSH is an autocrine factor in microglia. Because melanocortin peptides inhibit production of pro-inflammatory mediators by activated microglia they might be useful in treatment of inflammatory/degenerative brain disorders.
National Center for Toxicological Research, Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Jefferson, AR 72079, USA.
Obesity, an easily detected and quantifiable phenotypic endpoint, is often considered, colloquially, as a disease. However, the study of obesity in rodents suggests that it is merely a convenient indicator of diverse underlying metabolic and physiologic dysregulations, rather than a disease entity in itself. To illustrate this concept, the differences between the murine Lepob/Lepob and Avy/- "obesity" syndromes are delineated. In both syndromes, pleiotropic effects of single mutations play a major role in altering the homeostatic regulation of energy metabolism and a myriad of extra- and intracellular processes in a diversity of tissues and cell types. The Lepob/Lepob syndrome mimics juvenile-onset obesity, whereas the Avy/- syndrome resembles maturity-onset obesity. The Avy/- syndrome has its basis in overabundance of agouti protein, whereas the Lepob/Lepob syndrome results from a lack of active leptin hormone. Lepob/Lepob mice have a smaller lean body mass, whereas Avy/- mice have a larger lean body mass than their respective lean siblings. Lepob/Lepob mice have fewer lung and mammary tumors than their lean Lep/- littermates, and Avy/- develop more mammary and lung tumors than their lean A/- or a/a siblings. Lepob/Lepob mice are infertile or sterile, whereas Avy/- mice are fertile. Thus, although adult Lepob/Lepob and Avy/- mice are both obese, many of the other morphologic and physiologic attributes of one mutant are diametrically opposite to those of the other.
Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Modena, Italy.
1. The resuscitating activity of melanocortin peptides (MSH-ACTH peptides) was tested in an experimental model of prolonged respiratory arrest. 2. Anaesthetized, endotracheally intubated rats subjected to a 5 min period of ventilation interruption, invariably died from cardiac arrest within 6-9 min of resumption of ventilation. 3. When resumption of ventilation was associated with the simultaneous intravenous (i.v.) injection of a melanocortin peptide (alpha-MSH or ACTH-(1-24)) (160 microg kg(-1) there was an almost immediate (within 1 min), impressive increase in cardiac output, heart rate, mean arterial pressure (+ 560% of the before-treatment value) and pulse pressure (+356% of the before-treatment value), with full recovery of electroencephalogram after 30-45 min. Blood gases and pH were normalized within 15-60 min after treatment, and all treated animals eventually recovered completely and survived indefinitely (= more than 15 days). 4. The same response was observed in adrenalectomized animals, as well as in animals pretreated with a beta1-adrenoceptor blocking agent (atenolol, 3 mg kg(-1), i.v.), or with an alpha1-adrenoceptor blocking agent (prazosin, 0.1 mg kg(-1), i.v.), or with an adrenergic neurone blocking agent (guanethidine, 10 mg kg(-1), intraperitoneally). 5. An effect quite similar to that produced by melanocortins was obtained with ouabain (0.1 mg kg(-1), i.v.); the antioxidant drug, glutathione (75 mg kg(-1), i.v.) also produced 100% resuscitation, but the effect was slower in onset. On the other hand, adrenaline (0.005 mg kg(-1), i.v.) was able to resuscitate only 1 out of 8 rats and dobutamine (0.02 mg kg(-1), i.v.) resuscitated 4 out of 8 rats; moreover, the effect of both catecholamines was much slower in onset than that of melanocortins and the initial, impressive stimulation of cardiovascular function was absent. 6. These results show that melanocortin peptides have a resuscitating effect in a pre-terminal condition produced in rats by prolonged asphyxia. This effect seems primarily due to the restoration of cardiac function, not mediated by catecholamines. These data also suggest that these peptides may have potential therapeutic value in conditions of transient cardiac hypoxia and re-oxygenation such as occur in coronary artery disease.
Section of Cancer Biology, New Jersey Medical School, Newark 07103-2714, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
Melanin is both photosensitizer and photoprotector. Skin cancer rates decrease with increasing constitutive pigmentation, yet the pigment has been shown to be photoreactive and capable of producing damaging reactive oxygen species. We utilized model systems of related cells or similar cell type that vary in constitutive and in induced pigment. Induction of eumelanin in Cloudman S91 mouse melanoma cells leads to less UV-induced killing and to less mutation induction at the ouabain locus (Na+, K(+)-ATPase). Pigmented mouse melanocytes, melan-b (brown) and melan-a (black) were slightly less sensitive than melan-c (albino) melanocytes to killing after UVC and UVA but were more sensitive to killing after UVB and UVB + UVA. Pigment had a small sensitizing effect on pyrimidine dimer DNA damage in both the melanoma cells and the melanocytes. The lack of consistency in these results suggests that intracellular pigment may disregulate the milieu intrieur resulting in end effects that are unrelated to the original genomic damage.
The effect of synthetic peptide ACTH4-10 on the course of healing of an experimental wound of the rabbit cornea was studied. Daily subconjunctival injections of the drug in a dose of 10(-8) M for 25 days boosted the migration of leukocytes and macrophages and increased the interstitial and keratocyte proteolysis during the first 10 days of the experiment. Subsequent follow-up showed manifest proliferation of fibroblasts and formation of fibrosis. These data demonstrate expressed effect of synthetic ACTH4-10 on the course of the inflammatory and regeneratory processes in the cornea after partial keratectomy and prove the possibility of short-term local therapy with this peptide as an agent improving corneal wound healing during the initial phases.
Department of Physiology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, Dallas, Texas 75235-9040, USA.
Tumor necrosis factor (TNF-alpha) underlies pathological processes and functional disturbances in acute and chronic neurological disease and injury. The neuroimmunomodulatory peptide alpha-MSH modulates actions and production of proinflammatory cytokines including TNF-alpha, but there is no prior evidence that it alters TNF-alpha induced within the brain. To test for this potential influence of the peptide, TNF-alpha was induced centrally by local injection of bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS). alpha-MSH given once i.c.v. with LPS challenge, twice daily intraperitoneally (i.p.) for 5 d between central LPS injections, or both i.p. and centrally, inhibited production of TNF-alpha within brain tissue. Inhibition of TNF-alpha protein formation by alpha-MSH was confirmed by inhibition of TNF-alpha mRNA. Plasma TNF-alpha concentration was elevated markedly after central LPS, indicative of an augmented peripheral host response induced by the CNS signal. The increase was inhibited by alpha-MSH treatments, in relation to inhibition of central TNF-alpha. Presence within normal mouse brain of mRNA for the alpha-MSH receptor MC-1 suggests that the inhibitory effects of alpha-MSH on brain and plasma TNF-alpha might be mediated by this receptor subtype. The inhibitory effect of alpha-MSH on brain TNF-alpha did not depend on circulating factors because the effect also occurred in brain tissue in vitro. This indicates that alpha-MSH can act directly on brain cells to inhibit their production of TNF-alpha. If central TNF-alpha contributes to pathology in CNS disease and injury, and promotes inflammation in the periphery, agents that act on brain alpha-MSH receptors should decrease the pathological TNF-alpha reaction and promote tissue survival.
Physiology Department, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas 75235-9040, USA.
The mechanisms underlying inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) remain obscure but the importance of inflammatory processes is clear and most pharmacological therapies inhibit inflammation. The search for more effective agents with low toxicity continues. To test the possibility that the antiinflammatory/anticytokine peptide alpha-MSH can be used to control IBD, the peptide was administered to a murine colitis model. The peptide treatment had marked salutary effects: it reduced the appearance of fecal blood by over 80%, inhibited weight loss, and prevented disintegration of the general condition of the animals. Mice given alpha-MSH showed markedly lower production of TNF alpha by tissues of the lower colon stimulated with concanavalin A; the inhibitory effect of alpha-MSH on production of inflammatory nitric oxide by lower bowel tissue was even greater. The combined results indicate that alpha-MSH modulates experimental IBD, perhaps by inhibiting production within the gut of the local proinflammatory agents TNF alpha and nitric oxide, or by inhibiting inflammatory processes closely linked to these mediators.
Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, USA.
Physiological investigation has demonstrated that the central nervous system monitors body composition and adjusts energy intake and expenditure to stabilize total adipose tissue mass. Genetic variations in the signalling molecules involved in this regulatory system account for the heritable component of body fat content. The application of molecular techniques to rodent models of Mendelian obesity has resulted in the characterization of five loci at which mutations produce an abnormal accumulation of body fat. The genes at these loci include agouti, which encodes a molecule that antagonizes the binding of alpha melanocyte-stimulating hormone to its receptor; fat, which encodes carboxypeptidase E; tubby, which encodes a putative phosphodiesterase; obese, which encodes a circulating satiety protein; and diabetes, which encodes the receptor for the obese gene product. A more detailed understanding of the functional interrelationships of these genes should lead to important new insights into the causes and potential therapies for human obesity.
Department of Dermatology, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Royal Victoria Infirmary, UK.
Melanocyte stimulating hormone (MSH) plays an important role in determining the cutaneous response to ultraviolet radiation and may also influence melanoma progression. We have previously shown that variants of the melanocortin receptor present on melanocytes, MC1R, are associated with sun sensitivity and red hair in a UK population and therefore now consider the gene as a candidate for melanoma susceptibility. We have compared the frequency of known MC1R variants in the second and seventh transmembrane domains in 43 melanoma cases and 44 controls. MC1R variants were more common in cases than controls (chi 2 = 6.75, 1 d.f.; P = 0.0094) with a relative risk to carriers of variant alleles compared with normal homozygotes of 3.91 (95% c.l.: 1.48-10.35), and a population risk attributable to carriers of 34.6% (95% c.i. 10.7-52.1%). The Asp84Glu variant was only present in melanoma cases and appears to be of particular significance. The contribution of variant MC1R alleles was largely independent of skin type. Variants of the MC1R gene are likely to be causally associated with the development of melanoma.
Department of Molecular and Clinical Endocrinology and Oncology, Universit Federico II, School of Medicine, Naples, Italy.
The effect of corticotropin (ACTH)-releasing hormone (CRH) administration on alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH), ACTH and beta-endorphin (beta-EPH) was evaluated in the inferior petrosal sinuses and in the periphery of 30 patients affected with Cushing's disease subjected to simultaneous and bilateral inferior petrosal sinus sampling for diagnostic purposes. Baseline PRL levels, sensitivity to dexamethasone and surgery outcome were compared to alpha-MSH response. CRH bolus did not modify alpha-MSH concentrations either in the inferior petrosal sinuses or in the periphery in the 30 patients considered as a whole. In 7 of 30 patients, however, a greater than 50% increase over baseline alpha-MSH levels (from 50 to 115.5%) was recorded in the inferior petrosal sinus ipsilateral to the adenoma (from 42.9 +/- 1.7 to 76.4 +/- 4.6 ng/l; p < 0.001), whereas no change was found in the contralateral inferior petrosal sinus or in the periphery. Conversely, as expected, ACTH and beta-ELI significantly increased in all the patients after CRH both in the inferior petrosal sinuses and in the periphery (particularly in the inferior petrosal sinus ipsilateral to the adenoma). No difference in sensitivity to dexamethasone (urinary cortisol percent decrease: 66.4 +/- 4.9 vs. 67.8 +/- 3.4) and surgery outcome (chi 2 test: p = 0.7) was found between patients with alpha-MSH response to CRH and patients without such a response. By contrast, baseline PRL levels, although being normal in both groups, were significantly higher in patients with alpha-MSH response to CRH (18.1 +/- 1.6 vs. 10.1 +/- 0.7 micrograms/l; p < 0.001). In conclusion, the results of the present study suggest that in a subset of patients with Cushing's disease (23.3% of our series) alpha-MSH may be released after the administration of CRH together with ACTH and beta-EPH by adenomatous corticotrophs. In this subset of patients, PRL levels may be in the upper normal range.
Department of Medical Pharmacology, Rudolf Magnus Institute for Neurosciences, Utrecht University, Netherlands.
We observed that the pro-opiomelanocortin-derived neuropeptide, gamma 2-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (gamma 2-MSH), has various peripheral and central hemodynamic effects in the rat, including a marked enhancing effect on cerebral blood flow. This hemodynamic profile might be of interest in the pharmacotherapeutic approach to acute cerebral ischemia. Being an adrenocorticotropin (ACTH) analogue, gamma 2-MSH might also possess direct neuronal protective properties. Therefore, in two rat models of focal cerebral ischemia we studied the effects of gamma 2-MSH, with nimodipine, a Ca2+ channel antagonist, as a reference compound, on parasagittal laser-Doppler-assessed cortical blood flow and infarction volume. In isoflurane-anesthetized Wistar and F344 rats i.v. bolus infusions (four in total) of gamma 2-MSH or nimodipine or their vehicle controls were given 1 h before, 1 min after, and 1 h and 2 h after occlusion of the middle cerebral artery. We used both an intravasal and an extravasal middle cerebral artery occlusion technique because pilot experiments had shown differences in the severity of ischemia with the two techniques. gamma 2-MSH (100 nmol/kg in 1 min) increased cortical blood flow significantly but transiently, both pre- and post-ischemically, whereas nimodipine (20 micrograms/kg in 1 min) increased cortical blood flow only pre-ischemically in both models of middle cerebral artery occlusion. gamma 2-MSH had no effect on cortical and striatal infarction volume, while nimodipine caused a significant reduction of cortical infarction volume in the extravasal middle cerebral artery occlusion model. To conclude, despite its hemodynamic and possible neuroprotective properties, gamma 2-MSH did not prevent ischemic neuronal damage after middle cerebral artery occlusion in rats. This might be partly due to the short half-life of the peptide, leading to a transient increase in cortical blood flow and short neuronal exposure time, suggesting that prolonged infusion of the neuropeptide might be required. The results with nimodipine support the notion that it attenuates cortical ischemic damage, independently of effects on cerebral hemodynamics.
Department of Neurology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia 19104, USA.
Multiple sclerosis is a central nervous system demyelinating disease. Significant evidence, including similarities with its animal model, experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, supports an autoimmune mechanism, activated by putative environmental factors in genetically predisposed individuals. Genetic factors strongly influence the susceptibility to demyelinating diseases in humans and rodents. Understanding the mechanisms governing susceptibility versus resistance may help to identify individuals at risk or design therapeutic strategies. The hypothesis formulated here is based on the observation that resistance to multiple sclerosis and experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis is associated with dark skin pigmentation. While this may signify a protective role for melanin against environmental factors producing oxidative damage, the mechanism postulated here is that susceptibility to autoimmune demyelination is influenced by hormonal factors, i.e. the neurohormones melatonin and melanocyte stimulating hormone, which have opposing effects on immune functions and, the same time, are important determinants of the individual's production of melanin.
Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Heinrich-Heine-University of Dsseldorf, Germany.
As recently established in several species, the presence of neural crest derivate-melanocytes is essential for the development of the epithelial cells regulating the ion and the potential gradients in the inner ear. The interaction between the melanocytes and the epithelial cells appears to be activated when intracellular Ca2+ increases. This may be due to a disturbance of the Ca2+ homeostasis under hydropic conditions or to the effect of the Ca-ionophore (A 23187) or hormone (alpha-MSH). Lowering of extracellular Ca2+ blocked the effect of the drug at the basal level. The interaction of the melanocytes with the epithelial or endothelial cells differs significantly. It is indicated that melanocytes may be under hormonal control and that their activation and intercellular interaction are related to the increase of intracellular Ca2+ and may be controlled by extracellular Ca2+. Furthermore, we propose that melanocytes provide a regulatory network for the maintenance of the inner ear homeostasis.
Department of Clinical Sciences of Companion Animals, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands.
Chronic liver disease may be accompanied by disturbed sodium and water homeostasis. There is usually sodium retention and ascites. However, spontaneous natriuresis has also been reported in humans and experimental animals with liver cirrhosis. Chronic hypercortisolism, which may occur in dogs with advanced liver disease, is known to induce the inhibition of the osmostimulation of vasopressin (AVP) release. We have therefore investigated the osmoregulation of AVP release in 11 dogs with chronic hypercortisolism associated with advanced liver dysfunction and hepatic encepahlopathy and in 10 control dogs. Basal pituitary-adrenocortical activity was investigated by measuring the concentration in multiple plasma samples of adrenocorticotropin (ACTH), alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH), and cortisol and the cortisol:creatinine ratio in 24-hr urine. Urine specific gravity was also measured. The feedback regulation of the system was investigated by measuring these hormones in plasma after an intravenous (iv) injection of 0.01 mg/kg of dexamethasone. The osmoregulation of the release of AVP was investigated by the intravenous infusion of a 20% NaCl solution at a flow rate of 0.03 ml/kg for 2 hr and the measurement of AVP in plasma sampled at 20-min intervals. The AVP release was analyzed in terms of the threshold osmolality at which it commenced and the sensitivity, which reflects the magnitude of the response. All dogs had highly increased urinary cortisol:creatinine ratios, ranging from 21 to 210 x 10(-6) (normally < 10 x 10(-6)). The mean basal plasma concentrations of the three pituitary-adrenocortical hormones were significantly increased. ACTH values were 35 to 146 ng/l (normally, 14 to 68), MSH values were 26 to 118 ng/l (normally, 10 to 36), and cortisol values were 88 to 194 nmol/l (normally, 23 to 112). The feedback inhibition of the secretion of ACTH and cortisol in response to dexamethasone was unaffected. Urine specific gravity was significantly decreased. The regulation of AVP release was found to be abnormal in all dogs with hepatic encephalopathy. The osmotic threshold at which the release of AVP was induced was abnormally high in seven of the dogs with liver disease and in the normal range in one. It could not be determined in three dogs. The sensitivity of AVP release in response to increasing plasma hypertonicity was normal in two dogs and decreased in nine. In three dogs, there was no increase in AVP release. None of the dogs had normal values for both the sensitivity and the threshold.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)
Department of Biology, California State University, Los Angeles 90032.
Feather melanocytes in the Barred Plymouth Rock (BPR) and White Leghorn (WL) chickens die prematurely in vivo when compared to the wild type Jungle Fowl (JF) chicken. Since these mutant melanocytes live in vitro, an environmental factor in the feather must precipitate their death. Results show that the addition of selected antioxidants, glutathione (GSH) and superoxide dismutase (SOD), can rescue these mutant melanocytes in vitro that have been placed under stress conditions that cause their premature cell death. Measurements of in vivo levels of GSH, catalase, and SOD show no significant difference in catalase activity between the JF, BPR, and WL feathers but do show a significant reduction in GSH activity in both the BPR and WL feathers to approximately 66% of the GSH concentration found in JF feathers. SOD activity in the BPR tissue is reduced significantly to approximately 50% of the JF activity and the WL SOD activity is reduced significantly to approximately 50% of the BPR SOD activity. Preliminary results of measurements of glutathione peroxidase activity indicate there is no difference in the levels of this enzyme in JF, BPR and WL feathers. A working hypothesis, based on current results, is proposed for premature cell death in BPR and WL feather melanocytes. The BPR melanocytes are genetically sensitive due to a defect in their SOD and GSH levels caused by the barring gene (B) and their death, due to reactive species of oxygen radicals, is precipitated in the poorly vascularized feather by the accumulation of oxygen radicals due to the low turnover of tissue fluids. The WL chicken carries the dominant white gene (I) in addition to the B gene. This gene directs the further reduction of the level of SOD and, when combined with the cell death mechanism already present in the BPR chicken, causes the WL feather melanocytes to die much earlier than the BPR feather melanocytes which in turn die much earlier than the wild type JF melanocytes. This same mechanistic hypothesis could apply as a cause of premature melanocyte cell death in human vitiligo wherein the vitiliginous melanocytes may have a genetic defect in their oxygen radical protection system.
Institute of Internal Medicine, Infectious Diseases, and Immunopathology, University of Milan, Italy.
The aim of this study was to determine if the anticytokine neuropeptide alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH) occurs, along with interleukin 1 receptor antagonist (IL-1ra) and soluble tumor necrosis factor receptor (sTNFr), in synovial fluid of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), juvenile chronic arthritis (JCA), or osteoarthritis. The data show that alpha-MSH does occur in the synovial fluid and its concentrations are greater in patients with RA than in those with osteoarthritis. Synovial fluid concentrations of IL-1ra and sTNFr were likewise greater in RA. Further, concentrations of alpha-MSH, IL-1-ra, and sTNFr were greater in patients with polyarticular/systemic-onset JCA than in those with pauciarticular disease, that is in patients with greater joint inflammation. Concentrations of alpha-MSH were greater in synovial fluid than in plasma in a substantial proportion of patients, suggesting local production of the peptide; this is the first indication that the anticytokine molecule alpha-MSH is produced within a site of inflammation. Further, it appears that local production of alpha-MSH is induced particularly in those arthritic joints that have more intense inflammatory reactions. This finding, combined with previous evidence of the marked anti-inflammatory activity of alpha-MSH, suggests that the peptide acts locally to modulate proinflammatory influences in rheumatic diseases.
Department of Molecular and Medical Genetics, Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland 97201.
The melanocortin peptides regulate a wide variety of physiological processes, including pigmentation and glucocorticoid production, and also have several activities in the central and peripheral nervous systems. The melanocortin receptor family includes the melanocyte-stimulating hormone receptor (MSH-R), adrenocorticotropic hormone receptor (ACTH-R), and two neural receptors, MC3-R and MC4-R. In the human these receptors map to 16q24 (MSH-R), 18p11.2 (ACTH-R), 20q13.2 (MC3-R), and 18q22 (MC4-R). The corresponding locations in the mouse are 8, 18, and 2; a variant for mapping MC4-R has not yet been identified. The data reported here also show that the neural MC3 receptor maps close to a disease locus for benign neonatal epilepsy in human and near the E1-2 epilepsy susceptibility locus in the mouse.
Department of Physiology, Medical School, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, UK.
The pro-opiomelanocortin-derived peptides, beta-endorphin (beta-EP), ACTH and alpha-MSH act in concert to promote synaptogenesis and nerve growth in the neuromuscular system. Immunocytochemistry was used to detect the peptides in triceps muscles of normal developing and adult mice and in adult wobbler mice with motor neurone disease. Immunoreactivity for beta-EP and alpha-MSH/ACTH was present in some intramuscular motor nerves. There was a significantly higher proportion of immunoreactive nerves in the muscles of the developing and the diseased mice than in the normal adults. ACTH and beta-EP receptors were revealed using autoradiography. Specific binding sites for 125I-labelled ACTH and 125I-labelled beta-EP were present in some fibres in all muscles examined. There were significantly higher proportions of fibres exhibiting specific beta-EP and specific ACTH binding sites in the muscles of the developing and the diseased mice compared to the muscles of normal adults. It seems likely that the high incidence of immunoreactive nerves and of muscle fibres with the peptide receptors in the developing and diseased mice reflects the trophic actions of the peptides in the neuromuscular system.
Center for Molecular Medicine/Institute of Biotechnology, University of Texas, San Antonio 78284.
Humans with a germline mutation of the RB gene are predisposed to retinoblastoma with a 90% penetrance and are at higher risk for other rare tumors. We have established a mouse strain carrying a germ-line mutation of the Rb-1 gene. Here we describe a nearly 100% incidence of spontaneous pituitary tumors which arise in Rb-1 heterozygous mice from ages 2 to 11 months. Histological and immunological analysis indicate that these tumors originate from the intermediate lobe of the pituitary gland, which is a vestigial structure in adult humans. Progression of the tumors can be followed by the elevated level of a specific proteolytic product of pro-opiomelanocortin prohormone, alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone, in the circulating blood of the tumor-bearing animals. Multiple foci are frequently seen in the tiny intermediate lobe of the pituitary gland which contains approximately 1.5 x 10(5) cells. The tumor tissues invariably lose expression of full-length Rb protein due to loss of the single wild-type Rb-1 allele. The Rb knock out mouse strain provides a unique model for addressing tissue-specific tumor predisposition by inactivation of a ubiquitously expressed tumor suppressor gene.
There is increasing evidence that cytokines contribute to the immunopathogenesis of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. It may be, therefore, that compensatory rises in circulating cytokine antagonists also occur in HIV infection and that such changes mark disease progression. To test this idea, plasma concentrations of the cytokine antagonists alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH), interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1ra), and soluble tumor necrosis factor receptor (sTNFr) were measured in patients of different Centers for Disease Control (CDC) categories of HIV infection and in seronegative controls. Plasma levels of all these cytokine antagonists were higher in HIV-infected patients. IL-1ra and sTNFr concentrations were correlated with indicators of disease activity: positively with plasma neopterin and negatively with CD4+ T lymphocyte counts. alpha-MSH and sTNF r were greater in CDC groups III and IV, whereas IL-1ra was elevated only in the latter group. Because cytokines activate the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and adrenal steroids inhibit cytokine production, we measured circulating adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and cortisol in HIV-infected patients and investigated relations among these hormones, cytokine antagonists, and markers of disease progression. It appears that these physiological modulators of cytokine activity are not closely linked to sTNFr, IL-1ra and alpha-MSH: there were no significant correlations between plasma concentrations of ACTH or cortisol and those of cytokine antagonists, nor were there correlations between hormones and markers of disease progression such as neopterin or CD4+ T cell counts. It is notable that severe adrenal insufficiency was extremely rare (3%) in HIV-infected patients; it was confined to the AIDS group and was consistently secondary to ACTH deficiency.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)
Department of Physiology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas 75235-9040, USA.
alpha-Melanocyte-stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH) modulates inflammatory processes in models of acute inflammation and in models of sepsis/septic shock/adult respiratory-distress syndrome (ARDS). Because this neuropeptide inhibits actions of cytokines and other mediators of imflammation that are also believed to underlie aspects of chronic inflammation, tests were performed to compare the effects of repeated administration of the peptide with those of prednisolone and saline on the development of adjuvant arthritis in rats. alpha-MSH (50 micrograms), injected i.p. twice daily, markedly inhibited the clinical and histological signs of experimental arthritis and moderated the weight loss observed in control animals. Prednisolone (100 mg/kg), given twice per day, prevented development of arthritis but caused marked and progressive weight loss. The results confirm the potent anti-inflammatory influence of alpha-MSH, in this case in a model of chronic inflammation that has immune components.
Department of Medicine, Bristol Royal Infirmary, UK.
Adjuvant-induced arthritis (AA) in specific strains of rats is an immunologically mediated inflammatory disease which is also characterised by activation of the endocrine system. To further investigate the effects of AA on processing of the pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) precursor in rat immune tissues, we utilised radioimmunoassays for adrenocorticotrophin (ACTH), beta-endorphin and alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH) to measure these peptides in the spleen and thymus. 14 days following adjuvant injection, spleen levels of ACTH were elevated in the AA group (4.47 +/- 1.04 ng/g tissue, n = 9) compared to controls (2.42 +/- 0.4 ng/g) and exacerbation of the disease by removal of circulating glucocorticoids through bilateral adrenalectomy (ADX) resulted in further elevation of spleen ACTH (5.11 +/- 1.22 ng/g). beta-Endorphin levels in both the AA (10.60 +/- 1.61 ng/g) and AA/ADX (13.37 +/- 2.36 ng/g) groups were higher than controls (5.57 +/- 0.65 ng/g). Conversely, alpha-MSH spleen levels were decreased in the AA (2.89 +/- 0.22 ng/g) and AA/ADX (2.22 +/- 0.33 ng/g) groups compared to controls (4.62 +/- 0.45 ng/g) and were also decreased following adrenalectomy. In the thymus, ACTH levels were elevated in the AA group (8.95 +/- 1.41 ng/g) compared to controls (5.79 +/- 0.63 ng/g), and the same pattern was evident for thymic alpha-MSH (0.64 +/- 0.08 ng/g in AA animals compared to control levels of 0.35 +/- 0.03 ng/g). Following G50 gel filtration, ACTH and beta-endorphin immunoreactivities (ir) were present in both spleen and thymus as two peaks, one which eluted near the void volume and one which eluted in a lower molecular mass position than the standards.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)
Department of Dermatology, University of Milan, Italy.
The immune system is important in the pathogenesis of psoriasis and emotional stress has precipitated psoriasis in many patients. Neuropeptides, alpha-Melanocyte stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH), beta-endorphin, met-enkephalin and substance P (SP) act as immunomodulators, and their secretion increases during periods of stress. To see whether these neuropeptides themselves might be related to psoriasis and/or to the aggressiveness of the disease, we evaluated the plasma neuropeptide levels in 13 patients with active psoriasis (patients with new lesions and/or pre-existing lesions that had become larger during the month before the study), in 11 patients with stable psoriasis and in 10 healthy controls. Plasma concentrations of neuropeptides were evaluated by RIA (immunoradiometric assay for beta-endorphin). Data were compared by the Student t-test for unpaired data. There were no significant differences between the plasma levels of any of the neuropeptides between active psoriatic patients and stable psoriatic patients, nor between the plasma levels of neuropeptides of psoriatic patients and those of control subjects. It seems unlikely that circulating neuropeptide levels are of primary importance in the manifestation of the psoriatic skin lesions.
National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892.
The susceptibility of Lewis rats is related to blunted hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis responsiveness to a variety of inflammatory and neuroendocrine stimuli. In contrast resistance to inflammatory disease of histocompatible Fischer rats is associated with their intact HPA axis responses to the same stimuli. We have examined the contribution of IL-1 beta to in vitro corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) and arginine vasopressin (AVP) release from hypothalamic explants derived from LEW/N and F344/N rats. The same animal model has been used to investigate the regulatory effect of alpha MSH, an immunosuppressive neurohormone, on IL-1 beta stimulated CRH and AVP secretion. CRH basal release in both strains was similar. However, LEW/N hypothalamic AVP basal secretion was significantly elevated. CRH relative response of LEW/N hypothalamic explants to IL-1 beta stimulation was lower compared to Fischer, which is consistent with their hyporesponsiveness to inflammatory mediators. AVP secretion however, was significantly decreased in hypothalamic explants from both strains after 40 min exposure to IL-1 beta. alpha MSH suppressed basal CRH and AVP release in both LEW/N and F344/N rats and prevented IL-1 beta stimulated CRH secretion in these strains. AVP was further diminished in F344/N explants following incubation with alpha MSH + IL-1 beta, while LEW/N level was significantly elevated. However, AVP levels remained significantly below baseline in explants from both strains after final incubation with IL-1 beta. Although our findings indicate a modulatory action of alpha MSH in HPA axis regulation in vitro, the physiological importance of this phenomenon in Lewis and Fischer rats requires further investigation.
Department of Microbiology, Albany Medical College, NY 12208.
We investigated the presence of proopiomelanocortin (POMC) products in sections of skin from normal subjects and patients with neoplastic and non-neoplastic cutaneous disorders. Antibodies specific against adrenocorticotropin, beta-melanotropin, and beta-endorphin were used for detection and characterization of cell types bearing POMC peptides. POMC products were not observed in sections of normal skin from the corporal (non-scalp) areas (six cases), whereas the hair follicles of scalp skin exhibited positive immunostains that were readily apparent (four cases). POMC products were frequently detected in corporal skin affected by diseases (13 of 26 cases), for example, psoriatic keratinocytes, the inflammatory infiltrate in scarring alopecia, nevocytes, the epithelial cell nests of basal cell carcinoma, and melanoma cells. Further tests were performed in keloids, a primary reactive skin disorder, to evaluate whether POMC accumulation represented a disease-related phenomenon or an expression of normal cutaneous reactivity. POMC products were consistently detected (10 of 11 cases) in the keratinocytes and mononuclear cells at keloid lesions. Thus these observations indicate that POMC products may accumulate locally in lesional skin representing, presumably, a novel cutaneous response to injury. The broad spectrum of POMC products detected suggests that these arise from production in situ (expression of the POMC gene itself) by human skin.
Chair of Endocrinology, II School of Medicine, University of Naples, Italy.
Plasma ACTH, beta-endorphin and alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone levels were evaluated in the inferior petrosal sinuses and in the periphery of 22 patients affected by Cushing's disease, 11 patients with other pituitary diseases subjected to simultaneous and bilateral inferior petrosal sinus sampling and in the peripheral blood of 15 normal subjects. In patients with Cushing's disease ACTH, beta-endorphin and alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone levels in the inferior petrosal sinus ipsilateral to the adenoma were significantly higher than in the periphery and in the contralateral inferior petrosal sinus (p < 0.01, p < 0.01 and p < 0.05, respectively). In patients with other pituitary diseases only ACTH and beta-endorphin, but not alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone levels in both inferior petrosal sinuses were significantly higher than in the periphery (p < 0.01). Furthermore, no difference was found in the peripheral blood among patients with Cushing's disease, patients with other pituitary diseases and normal subjects for ACTH and beta-endorphin level. By contrast, in patients with Cushing's disease peripheral alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone levels were significantly higher than in patients with other pituitary diseases and in normal subjects (p < 0.05). In conclusion, the results of the present study suggest that only in patients with Cushing's disease, but not in patients with other pituitary diseases, alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone is released by adenomatous pituitary corticotrophs together with ACTH and beta-endorphin.
Cancer Research Unit, Medical School, University of Newcastle upon Tyne.
The nm23 and mts1 genes are associated with the expression of the metastatic phenotype. We have shown previously that modulation of metastatic behaviour produces parallel changes in the expression of these genes and that the expression of the two genes is co-regulated. Here we show that modulation of gene expression affects the process of tubulin polymerisation. B16 melanoma cell lines F1 and ML8 were treated with alpha melanocyte stimulating hormone (MSH) and all-trans retinoic acid (RA) respectively. MSH reduced the proportion of nm23+ and increased mts1+ F1 cells, with a 55% decrease in the ratio nm23:mts1. In parallel, MSH increased the expression of depolymerised form of tubulin in these cells. Treatment of ML8 cells with RA decreased mts1 positivity to a greater extent that nm23 positivity and the nm23:mts1 ratio increased by 70% and, in parallel, reduced the expression of depolymerised form of tubulin. These data suggest that nm23 and mts1 gene expression regulates the biological behaviour of the tumour cell and confer on it invasive and metastasizing properties by affecting the state of tubulin polymerisation.
alpha-Melanocyte-stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH), adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH), beta-endorphin, cortisol, and the cytokines interleukin 1 beta (IL-1 beta), interleukin 6 (IL-6), and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF alpha) were measured in 80 AIDS patients (group IV CDC) and in healthy hospital personnel. The average plasma alpha-MSH was significantly greater in AIDS patients than in control subjects; no significant differences between groups were observed in the average concentrations of ACTH, cortisol, and beta-endorphin; plasma cytokines were likewise similar in the two groups. Plasma concentrations of alpha-MSH and ACTH were inversely related in AIDS patients and a similar inverse relation between alpha-MSH and IL-6 was also observed in these patients. There were positive relations among elevated circulating ACTH, cortisol, IL-6, and high fever in AIDS patients with severe concomitant disease. Plasma alpha-MSH concentrations within a specific range correlated positively with 6 month survival. Because cytokines can stimulate HIV expression in certain cell types and they are believed to have a role in disease progression in HIV-infected patients, it may be that a potent endogenous modulator of cytokine action such as alpha-MSH is crucial to survival in these patients.
Our previous work indicated that IR-alpha-MSH (immunoreactive alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone) plasma levels are three times as high in melanoma patients with progressing disease than in disease-free patients, and that the melanoma tumor itself may be the source of IR-alpha-MSH. Further identification of the material in tumor extracts has been carried out in this study, and the results presented here show that the immunoreactivity is associated with a major fraction of about 16 kDa and another of 5-9 kDa. Significant amounts of the immunoreactive material were also found in human melanoma cells but not in culture supernatants. The presence of this material may be related to the melanogenic status of the tumor cells. We have estimated the intracellular IR-alpha-MSH to be within a 0.4 to 2.3 nM range in melanoma tumor cells. We have investigated the melanogenic effect of the IR-alpha-MSH material and its relationship to alpha-MSH. Purified extracts both from metastases and cultured cells were found to promote frog skin darkening as well as tyrosinase activity in Cloudman S91 melanoma cells. The IR material could also displace labeled alpha-MSH from its binding sites in human melanoma cells. Our data clearly indicate that melanoma cells engage in an autocrine production of alpha-MSH-like bioactive peptides by melanoma cells, of larger mol.wt., which are able to bind to MSH receptors. These peptides may be involved in the regulation of melanogenesis and possibly in the growth and proliferation of melanoma cells by an autocrine/paracrine mechanism.
Department of Neurosurgery, Nagoya University School of Medicine, Japan.
It has been hypothesized by Lamberts and coworkers in their analysis of 15 cases that adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)-secreting pituitary adenomas may be derived from either the anterior lobe or the intermediate lobe. The intermediate lobe type of Cushing's disease is thought to be controlled through a hypothalamic pathway and is characterized by hyperprolactinemia; suppressibility of cortisol with bromocriptine, and lower sensitivity to dexamethasone. The authors investigated the validity of this hypothesis in 125 cases of ACTH-secreting pituitary microadenomas by analyzing the endocrine findings, the locations of the microadenomas, and alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH) immunoreactivity in the adenoma cells. No significant differences in the basal hormone levels, cortisol suppressibility with bromocriptine, sensitivity to dexamethasone, and recurrence rate were observed between patients with the microadenoma adjacent to the posterior lobe (considered typical of the intermediate lobe-derived tumor) or those with the microadenoma located in the anterior lobe. The locations of the microadenoma were not correlated with alpha-MSH immunoreactivity in the adenoma cells. No significant differences in endocrine findings were noticed between adenomas positive or negative for alpha-MSH. Thus, Cushing's disease cannot be simply divided into either the anterior lobe type or the intermediate lobe type by endocrinological evaluation as described by Lamberts, et al.
2nd Department of Dermatology, University of Milano, Italy.
BACKGROUND: The immune system is important in the pathogenesis of vitiligo, and emotional stress has precipitated vitiligo in some patients. Opioid peptides, beta-endorphin, met-enkephalin, and alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH) act as immunomodulators, and their secretion increases during periods of stress. OBJECTIVE: To see whether these three neuropeptides might be related to vitiligo itself or to some alterations of the immune system in patients with vitiligo, we compared circadian variations in their plasma concentrations and natural killer cell activity of peripheral blood lymphocytes in 14 patients with vitiligo with those of 12 healthy subjects. METHODS: Plasma concentrations of neurohormones were evaluated by radioimmunoassay (immunoradiometric assay for beta-endorphin). Natural killer cell activity (NKCA) was assayed against K562 cells by 51Cr release technique. Data were compared by the Student t test and analyzed by cosinor analysis. RESULTS: The NKCA in vitiligo patients was higher than in controls but had similar circadian rhythm. alpha-MSH had no circadian rhythm in controls or in patients; plasma alpha-MSH levels were the same. Daily met-enkephalin and beta-endorphin oscillations in patients were no longer circadian. beta-Endorphin plasma levels in stable vitiligo were higher than in controls. There were no differences between patients with active vitiligo and normal subjects. Met-enkephalin plasma levels were generally higher in vitiligo patients, especially in the one with active vitiligo, than in controls. CONCLUSION: In vitiligo there are aberrations in neuropeptide, beta-endorphin, and met-enkephalin secretion. The plasma met-enkephalin level is positively correlated with the aggressiveness of the disease.
Department of Medicine, University of Dundee Medical School, Ninewells Hospital, U.K.
A case is presented of generalized skin hyperpigmentation due to alpha-MSH hypersecretion from the pituitary that was most marked in the light-exposed areas. The patient also had secondary adrenal dysfunction, peripheral lymphadenopathy, streptococcal glomerulonephritis and malabsorption. Analysis of this patient's alpha-MSH using high-pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC) showed a novel acetylation profile compared to normal individuals and to patients with Cushing's disease and Nelson's syndrome. Glucocorticoid replacement therapy resulted in suppression of alpha-MSH hypersecretion and complete resolution of the illness.
Department of Nuclear Medicine, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, UK.
A novel chelating derivative of alpha melanocyte stimulating hormone, bis MSH-DTPA, has been used for the diagnostic targeting of malignant melanoma. 15 patients were investigated of whom nine were shown by other means to have active disease at the time of the scan. Tumours were imaged in all of these nine patients. Of a total of 46 lesions over 10 mm encountered, 41 (89%) were imaged. There were no false positives and in two cases bisMSH-DTPA was instrumental in reversing diagnoses made using ultrasound. Derivatives of melanocyte stimulating hormone may be of considerable value in targeting melanomas.
Department of Neurology, University Hospital, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands.
The hereditary spinal muscular atrophies (SMA) type I-III belong to those diseases for which even the thought of medical therapy seems forbidden. Two neurotrophic factors are, however, now known to exert a markedly stimulating effect on survival of motor neurons in vivo! In principle such factors may become available by recombinant DNA techniques for experiments in animal models of SMA and if these experiments are successful for clinical trials in man. Medical therapy in SMA should aim primarily at patients early in the rapidly progressive phase of their disease, before massive loss of motoneuron has taken place.
Institute of Animal Pathology, University of Berne, Switzerland.
Knowledge of clinico-pathological correlations in canine Cushing's disease is rather poor. Therefore we describe, clinically and pathologically, a case of pituitary tumour-dependent Cushing's disease in an 8-year old female cocker spaniel. Based on our results, the tumour was defined as a non-dexamethasone-suppressive, corticotrophic adenocarcinoma characterized by some new findings such as intracerebral metastases of anti-ACTH-labelled tumour cells and combined alpha-, beta- and gamma 3-MSH immunoreactivity in the tumour.
Dopaminergic neuron controls CNS functions such as meso-limbic, striato-nigral and tubero-infundibular systems. The purpose of the present study is the evaluation of the hypothalamic dopaminergic neuron activity in neuro-degenerative disorders. alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH) is synthesized in the arcuate nucleus and lateral part of the hypothalamus, and its secretion is under the inhibitory control of the dopaminergic neuron both in the hypothalamus and pituitary. alpha-MSH-like-immunoreactivity (alpha-MSH-LI) in CSF is thought to be representative to the dopaminergic neuron activity in the hypothalamus. We therefore evaluated CSF levels of alpha-MSH-LI in spinocerebellar degenerations and extrapyramidal diseases. The subjects are 11 patients with Parkinson's disease, 16 with Shy-Drager syndrome (SDS), 16 with cerebellar cortical atrophy, 3 with Machado-Joseph disease, 3 with dentato-rubro-pallido-luysian atrophy and 2 with Huntington's disease as well as 24 controls. All patients with Parkinson's disease were administered levodopa and carbidopa. CSF was sampled through lumbar puncture in the morning. After the centrifugation, supernatant of CSF was stored at -40 degrees C until used. alpha-MSH in CSF was extracted by Rainero's method and measured by RIA. alpha-MSH-LI levels in control was 23.9 +/- 2.6 pg/ml (mean +/- SD). The significant elevation was observed in Parkinson's disease (40.3 +/- 7.5, p less than 0.001) and SDS (42.3 +/- 9.4, p less than 0.001). The levels showed not significant correlation with age, duration of illness or severity of autonomic disorder. Most of other diseases demonstrated the levels within normal range.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)
Department of Pathology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia 19104.
Subcortical Lewy bodies are the pathological hallmark of idiopathic Parkinson's disease. This study sought to determine the extent to which each neurofilament subunit [low (NF-L), mid (NF-M), or high (NF-H)] was present in Lewy bodies by using light, confocal, and electron microscopy. A battery of 37 antineurofilament antibodies, characterized as to subunit specificity, epitope domain, and phosphorylation status, was employed to probe substantia nigra Lewy bodies from 15 Parkinson's disease cases. All 37 antibodies labelled Lewy bodies. The epitopes recognized by these antibodies included those in the NF-L rod and tail domains; the NF-M head, rod, and tail domains, as well as epitopes within, and flanking, the multiphosphorylation repeat site; and the NF-H rod domain and multiphosphorylation repeat sites. With these probes, nearly the entire length of each subunit could be demonstrated in Lewy bodies. However, the staining pattern of the Lewy bodies suggested that the tail domains of NF-M and NF-H were present in the periphery of the Lewy body core and in the Lewy body corona, but they appeared to be altered or missing in the center of the Lewy body core. In contrast, the head domain of NF-M, the tail domain of NF-L, and the rod domains of all three subunits are present throughout the Lewy body. These results strongly suggest that the entire extent of each neurofilament subunit is found in Lewy bodies but that the neurofilament subunits may be altered during the processing of these filaments into Lewy bodies.
Department of Endocrinology, University Hospital, Utrecht, The Netherlands.
We have measured alpha-MSH in plasma of normal subjects and subjects with various diseases of the pituitary-adrenocortical system using a radioimmunoassay with a sensitivity of 1.2 pmol/l. No alpha-MSH could be detected in plasma of normal subjects (n = 6), in plasma of patients with Addison's disease (n = 3), Nelson's syndrome (n = 2), bromocriptine responsive (n = 2) and unresponsive (n = 5) Cushing's disease and in plasma of psychiatric patients on chronic treatment with the dopamine antagonist haloperidol (n = 5). Plasma alpha-MSH remained undetectable in 2 patients with Cushing's disease after iv injection of 60 micrograms/kg haloperidol. In contrast, alpha-MSH was detectable in plasma of normal dogs (n = 2) and dogs with pituitary dependent hyperadrenocorticism (n = 2), whereas the iv injection of halo peridol was associated with a rise of plasma alpha-MSH. Thus we are unable to detect circulating alpha-MSH in man despite the use of a sensitive radioimmunoassay.
Department of Medicine, New England Medical Center Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts 02111.
A 44-yr-old man with hypocortisolism was shown to have an undetectable basal plasma ACTH level and absent or subnormal ACTH and beta-lipotropin responses to provocative testing with insulin, vasopressin, and CRH. Endocrine function after glucocorticoid replacement was otherwise normal, thus establishing the diagnosis of isolated ACTH deficiency. This patient's serum was tested immunohistochemically for the presence of an antipituitary antibody by indirect immunofluorescence of rat pituitary tissue. Positive immunostaining was observed in stellate-shaped cells in the anterior and intermediate lobes. Immunopositive cells were shown by immunoelectron microscopy to have ultrastructural characteristics of corticotrophs. Immunoreactivity was concentrated in secretory granules 120-170 nm in diameter. In a double immunolabeling procedure, staining by the patient's serum was shown to colocalize with rabbit antiserum to ACTH, but not with antisera to PRL, GH, beta TSH, or beta LH. Immunoabsorption of the patient's serum with ACTH-(1-24), ACTH-(1-39), gamma MSH, corticotropin-like intermediate lobe peptide, beta-endorphin, or beta-lipotropin failed to diminish immunolabeling in the pituitary. We conclude that the antipituitary antibody in this patient's serum shows immunohistochemical specificity for a rat corticotroph antigen located in secretory granules that is neither ACTH nor any of the proopiomelanocortin (POMC)-derived peptides tested. The autoantigen could be a cell-specific granular factor involved in the posttranslational processing of POMC or secretion of ACTH. We postulate that an autoimmune process may account for this patient's disease, and that his antipituitary antibody could play a pathogenic role by either inhibiting a POMC-processing enzyme or initiating an antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity reaction, resulting in the selective destruction of corticotrophs.
The paper is concerned with the results of investigation of the blood concentration of alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH), hypophyseal reactivity to stress caused by insulin hypoglycemia in 26 patients with diseases of the hypothalamo-hypophyseal-adrenocortical system (Itsenko-Cushing disease and syndrome, hypothalamic syndrome of the pubertal period). A radioimmunoassay was used for the determination of the blood levels of alpha-MSH, ACTH and cortisol. In healthy persons the blood level of alpha-MSH rose 2-fold as compared to the basal one under the influence of insulin hypoglycemia-induced stress. In patients with Itsenko-Cushing disease at the active stage, alpha-MSH blood concentration was significantly elevated and a hypophyseal reaction to stress was disturbed. In Itsenko-Cushing syndrome, a decrease in the blood basal level of alpha-MSH and a hormone reaction to insulin hypoglycemia was noted. In patients with the hypothalamic syndrome of the pubertal period the blood level of alpha-MSH was raised and hypophyseal reactivity to insulin hypoglycemia was changed. Correlation analysis of the levels of alpha-MSH, ACTH and cortisol showed direct noticeable close relationships between the level of alpha-MSH and ACTH concentration in healthy persons and direct high close relationships between these indices in patients with Itsenko-Cushing disease. Correlation between the blood levels of alpha-MSH and cortisol was undetectable.
Department of Physiology, Medical School, University of Birmingham, U.K.
beta-Endorphin and alpha-melanotropin immunoreactivity was detected in motor nerves in histological sections of murine skeletal muscle, using the peroxidase-antiperoxidase technique. In mice of the wobbler strain, which can inherit motoneurone disease, a significantly higher proportion of the intramuscular nerves in soleus, extensor digitorum longus and diaphragm muscles of the diseased mice were immunoreactive than in the corresponding muscles of their healthy littermates.
Department of Histopathology, St Bartholomew's Hospital, West Smithfield, London.
The presence of immunoreactive (ir)-alpha-MSH has been investigated by immunocytochemistry in 24 pituitary adenomas and one case of corticotroph hyperplasia causing Cushing's disease, in four adenomas causing Nelson's syndrome, and in ten 'silent' corticotroph adenomas. It was found that a high proportion of these adenomas have a population of cells containing ir-alpha-MSH in addition to ir-ACTH. In some instances, these adenomas were clearly not associated with the residual intermediate lobe of the pituitary. Radioimmunoassay of plasma from patients with Cushing's disease or Nelson's syndrome showed elevated levels of ir-alpha-MSH in the majority of cases. Characterization of the ir-alpha-MSH in adenoma cells by immunocytochemistry, using an antiserum selective for acetylated forms of alpha-MSH, suggested that only the desacetyl form was present in each case examined. High-performance liquid chromatography of adenoma tissue extracts revealed material co-eluting with acetylated forms of alpha-MSH in only one of six cases. These results have been compared with corticotroph adenomas in animal pituitary glands, and it is concluded that the presence of alpha-MSH peptides cannot be used as a marker for intermediate lobe tumours, and that desacetyl alpha-MSH is commonly produced by corticotroph adenomas.
University of Manchester, Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Hope Hospital, Salford, United Kingdom.
An immunoradiometric assay (IRMA) for the direct measurement of the precursors of ACTH in unextracted human plasma has been developed and evaluated clinically in normal subjects and patients with disorders of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. The IRMA is based on an iodinated monoclonal antibody to ACTH and a monoclonal antibody to gamma MSH coupled to Sephacryl S300. The assay detects only peptides containing both epitopes, i.e. POMC (31K) and pro-ACTH (22K). The reference standard was partially purified POMC from culture medium of human corticotroph adenoma cells. The detection limit (greater than +2.5SD of the 0 standard) was 2.0 pmol/L and the within-assay coefficient of variation was less than 10% between 29 and 2600 pmol/L. Plasma concentrations of ACTH precursor peptides in 11 normal subjects sampled at 0930 h ranged from 5-34 pmol/L. The concentrations in the patient groups studied were: 260-2300 pmol/L in 5 patients with the ectopic ACTH syndrome associated with small cell lung cancer, less than 2.0-104 pmol/L in 10 patients with pituitary-dependent Cushing's disease, 23 pmol/L in a patient with Nelson's syndrome, and 3.0-230 pmol/L in 5 patients with Addison's disease. We conclude that this IRMA offers a simple and reliable method for measuring ACTH precursors in unextracted plasma. The proportionately greater elevation of ACTH precursors compared to ACTH in patients with the ectopic ACTH syndrome associated with small cell lung cancer but not in pituitary-dependent Cushing's syndrome, suggests that this assay may be clinically useful.
Laboratory of Neurosciences, National Institute on Aging, Bethesda, Md 20892.
We measured alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormonelike immunoreactivity in cerebrospinal fluid of 12 healthy control subjects and nine patients with Parkinson's disease, four of whom had never been treated. Mean cerebrospinal fluid alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormonelike immunoreactivity concentration was two-fold greater in parkinsonian patients (44.1 +/- 9.3 [SD] pg/mL) as compared with control subjects (21.8 +/- 10.0 pg/mL). No significant correlation was found between cerebrospinal fluid alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormonelike immunoreactivity concentrations and patient age, disease severity, or duration of disease. These results suggest a functional relation between dopaminergic and melanotropinergic systems in the human brain.
Department of Histopathology, St. Bartholomew's Hospital, London, UK.
There is evidence that peptides related to alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH) are involved in regulating the zona glomerulosa of the adrenal cortex in certain species. We have investigated the amount of immunoreactive (IR)-alpha-MSH in the human pituitary gland of patients suffering from Addison's disease. We show increased numbers of cells containing demonstrable IR-alpha-MSH in the anterior lobe in these patients. Using an antiserum with specificity for the acetylated N-terminus of alpha-MSH we suggest that the major form present is desacetyl-alpha-MSH. These findings are in keeping with a role for anterior lobe derived desacetyl-alpha-MSH in the regulation of the human adrenal cortex.
Department of Clinical Chemistry KK, University Hospital of Copenhagen, Denmark.
Human pituitary tumours, obtained at surgery for Cushing's disease and Nelson's syndrome, were extracted and the content and molecular forms of pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC)-derived peptides determined by radioimmunoassay, gel chromatography, reversed-phase high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and sequence analysis. In the tumours from patients with Cushing's disease the mean concentrations of amidated peptides relative to the total amount of POMC were as follows: alpha-MSH, 1.7%; amidated gamma-MSH (gamma 1-MSH), 8.5% and the peptide linking gamma-MSH and ACTH in the precursor (hinge peptide or joining peptide) in its amidated form (HP-N), 17.1%. The same relative concentrations in the tumours from patients with Nelson's syndrome were 8.5% (alpha-MSH), 7.5% (gamma 1-MSH) and 12.2% (HP-N). More than 95% of the ACTH(1-39) immunoreactivity eluted as synthetic ACTH(1-39) by gel chromatography and HPLC. The remaining ACTH(1-39) immunoreactivity eluted as partly glycosylated high molecular weight forms. All the alpha-MSH and its glycine-extended precursor ACTH(1-14) were of low molecular weight, mainly non- or mono-acetylated forms, but significant amounts of diacetylated analogues were also present. gamma 1-MSH and gamma 2-MSH immunoreactivities eluted as high molecular weight forms and were partly glycosylated. No low molecular weight forms of gamma 1-MSH or gamma 2-MSH could be detected in the pituitary tumours. Amidated hinge peptide was mainly of the 30 amino acid form. In conclusion, all the molecular forms of the amidated peptides detected in tumours from patients with Cushing's disease and Nelson's syndrome were similar to the molecular forms found in the normal human pituitary. The main difference between the tumours and the normal pituitary was the greater amount of peptides produced, particularly alpha-MSH and gamma 1-MSH.
Laboratory of Neurosciences, National Institute on Aging, Bethesda, MD 20892.
We measured CSF alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone-like immunoreactivity (alpha-MSH-LI) in 35 patients with dementia of the Alzheimer type (DAT) and in 27 healthy control subjects. Mean alpha-MSH-LI concentration was significantly decreased in DAT patients as compared with age-matched controls. However, when the DAT patients were analyzed according to age at onset of dementia or presence of extrapyramidal signs, alpha-MSH-LI concentrations remained significantly lower than in controls only in DAT patients with late onset of dementia (greater than 65 years of age). No correlation was found between alpha-MSH levels and degree of mental impairment. A significant negative correlation was found between CSF concentrations of alpha-MSH and homovanillic acid in the group of all DAT patients (p less than 0.001). These results suggest that hypothalamic neurons which produce pro-opiomelanocortin-related peptides may be involved in Alzheimer's disease.
Department of Chemical Endocrinology, St Bartholomew's Hospital, London, UK.
Clinical and in-vitro investigations have been performed on a corticotroph adenoma removed from a patient suffering from Cushing's disease. Prior to surgery, the patient's Cushing's disease had been successfully controlled, clinically and biochemically, by long term administration of bromocriptine. After selective adenomectomy, tumour tissue was investigated by a perfused isolated cell column technique. It was shown that the tumour cells secreted immunoreactive- (IR)- ACTH and IR-alpha-MSH and that the release of both peptides was promptly suppressed by dopamine. Chromatographic analysis of the secreted IR-alpha-MSH revealed a high proportion of acetylated alpha-MSH; smaller amounts of desacetyl alpha-MSH and diacetyl alpha-MSH were present. The relevance of these findings to the proposal that certain corticotroph adenomas are derived from the intermediate lobe of the pituitary is discussed. It is concluded that there is little direct evidence for involvement of the residual zona intermedia of the adult human pituitary in the development of Cushing's disease.
Laboratory of Behavioral Neuropharmacology, Nathan Kline Institute, Orangeburg, New York 10962.
The movement disorder investigated in these studies has some features in common with human idiopathic dystonia, and information obtained in these studies may be of potential clinical benefit. The present experimental results indicated that peptidergic stimulation of the LC resulted in a NE-mediated inhibition of cerebellar Purkinje cells located at terminals of the ceruleo-cerebellar pathway. However, it is not certain as to the following: (a) what receptors were stimulated by the ACTH N-terminal fragments at the LC that resulted in this disorder; (b) whether NE, released onto Purkinje cell synapses located at terminals of the ceruleo-cerebellar pathway, did indeed cause the long-term depression at Purkinje cell synapses (previously described by others) that resulted in the long duration of the movement disorder; (c) whether the inhibition of inhibitory Purkinje cells resulted in disinhibition or increased excitability of the unilateral cerebellar fastigial or interpositus nuclei, the output targets of the Purkinje cell axons, that may have been an important contributing factor to this disorder. These questions are currently being investigated.
The immunohistochemical demonstration of neurofilament (NF) polypeptide was used to identify nerves in a series of 17 pituitary adenomas. NF-positive fibres were present in two out of five corticotroph adenomas sited deep in the anterior lobe, in one out of five sited in the intermediate zone and in two out of seven non-corticotroph adenomas. Such nerve fibres were often seen in relation to blood vessels. The distribution of alpha-MSH immunoreactive cells was examined in 25 normal pituitaries and in 23 cases of Cushing's disease. Such cells were scattered throughout the normal gland and there was no increase in numbers in pregnancy. alpha-MSH was demonstrated in 18 corticotroph adenomas in Cushing's disease. There was no correlation with the site of the tumour or the presence of nerve fibres. alpha-MSH cells were distributed normally in the para-adenomatous gland. Crooke's hyaline change and alpha-MSH coexisted in some corticotrophs. These findings support the concept that 'intermediate lobe' function, as found in animals, has no discrete anatomical location in man.
It has been suggested that a proportion of the adenomas and the nodular hyperplasia of cells in the pituitary gland in cases of Cushing's disease are derived from cells of the pars intermedia rather than the pars anterior. The evidence can be summarized as follows: the posterior site of adenoma or nodular hyperplasia in the pituitary, the innervation of cells and the suppressive response to the dopamine agonist bromocriptine in vivo or to dopamine in vitro. All these observations infer analogy with cells of the pars intermedia of other species, which are controlled by direct neural tonic dopaminergic inhibition. The adult human pituitary gland, however, does not possess a morphologically distinct pars intermedia, due to regression of the rudimentary fetal pars intermedia after birth, with mixing of cells into the pars anterior and pars nervosa. Since cells of the pars intermedia characteristically synthesize alpha-MSH, we have studied this peptide in order to assess the occurrence and distribution of intermedia-derived cells in the adult human pituitary. Sections from 100 pituitaries, removed at autopsy, were stained by an indirect immunoperoxidase technique using non-cross-reacting antisera specific for alpha-MSH and ACTH. Immunoreactive alpha-MSH (IR-alpha-MSH) cells were found in a total of 97 specimens. Of these, only ten cases showed a marked concentration of IR-alpha-MSH cells in the zona intermedia. In the majority of pituitaries, IR-alpha-MSH cells were more commonly seen in the pars anterior than in the zona intermedia; in 41 cases, IR-alpha-MSH cells were completely absent from the zona intermedia.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)
The immunohistochemical characterization of 92 surgically resected abnormal pituitaries showed 24 cases with ACTH immunoreactivity. These included two cases of nodular hyperplasias, 20 functional adenomas, and two silent corticotropic adenomas. Both patients with nodular hyperplasia and 19 patients with functional adenomas had Cushing's disease, while one patient with a functional adenoma had Nelson's syndrome. The two silent corticotropic adenomas were not associated with Cushing's disease, although both patients had slightly elevated serum prolactin levels. The tumors, which were stained for beta-endorphin (12 cases) and alpha and beta-MSH (five cases) were all positive for these peptides. These results show that immunohistochemical staining is indispensable in the diagnosis of nodular hyperplasia and silent corticotropic adenomas and that it is extremely helpful in confirming the diagnosis of ACTH-producing adenomas.
Pituitary carcinoma is defined as a malignant pituitary tumour associated with blood- or lymph-borne metastases. Cushing's disease is frequently present in patients with this condition. After adrenalectomy for Cushing's disease, a 37-year-old man developed Nelson's syndrome resulting from a pituitary carcinoma with metastases to the spinal cord, cauda equina, heart, liver, and pancreas. The primary tumour and its metastases showed immunocytochemical staining for ACTH, beta-lipotrophin, and variably for beta-endorphin and alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH). A coincidental glioblastoma was also present. Nine cases of Cushing's disease associated with pituitary carcinoma, including the present patient, are documented in the literature. The case reported is only the second in which immunohistochemical staining of the primary pituitary tumour and its metastases was performed, and the first in which ACTH-related peptides, in addition to ACTH itself, were demonstrated in the carcinoma cells.
We measured basal plasma concentrations of the immunoreactive (IR) proopiomelanocortin (POMC)-derived peptides ACTH, beta-lipotropin (beta LPH), beta-endorphin (beta END), and alpha MSH in 160 normal dogs, 32 dogs with Addison's disease, 42 dogs with adrenocortical tumors causing Cushing's syndrome, and 169 dogs with pituitary-dependent Cushing's disease. In normal dogs, plasma IR-POMC peptide levels were similar to those in man, except that IR-alpha MSH, a pars intermedia POMC product, was readily detected. In Addisonian dogs, plasma cortisol was decreased, and the IR-POMC peptides were increased, except for IR-alpha MSH, which was normal. In 7 Addisonian dogs given dexamethasone, elevated plasma IR-ACTH, beta LPH, and beta END levels fell dramatically. In dogs with Cushing's syndrome due to adrenal tumors, plasma IR-ACTH, beta LPH, and beta END were decreased, and cortisol was increased, but IR-alpha MSH was normal. Dogs with Cushing's disease due to pars distalis tumors had elevated plasma IR-ACTH, beta LPH, beta END, and cortisol, but normal IR-alpha MSH; their plasma cortisol was suppressed by dexamethasone. There appeared to be 2 types of pars intermedia tumors causing Cushing's disease: 1 dexamethasone nonsuppressible and with disproportionately high plasma IR-alpha MSH levels, the other relatively dexamethasone suppressible and with normal to slightly elevated IR-alpha MSH levels. These 2 pars intermedia tumor types may arise from 2 distinct normal canine pars intermedia cell types. Canine Cushing's disease may provide a useful model for variants of the disorder in man.
Using a sensitive double-antibody solid-phase enzyme immunoassay method alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone-like immunoreactivity (alpha-MSH-LI) was measured in 21 regions of postmortem brains from 8 normal subjects and 5 patients with Alzheimer-type dementia (ATD). In the brains from the normal subjects, the highest concentration of alpha-MSH-LI was found in the hypothalamus. Relatively high concentration were also measured in the locus coeruleus, substantia innominata, substantia nigra, amygdala and medial nucleus of thalamus. alpha-MSH-LI in other regions was approximately 1/100 of the hypothalamic content. This data is consistent with the existence of alpha-MSH in extrahypophyseal regions and indicates its regional distribution in the human brain. In the Alzheimer brains, although the temporal cortex and hippocampus had normal concentrations of alpha-MSH-LI, the cingulate cortex, caudate and substantia nigra showed significantly lower concentrations of alpha-MSH-LI than those of the control brains. This data suggests that further studies of alpha-MSH content in a larger number of ATD brains would be useful.
The circulating levels of ACTH and alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH) were measured in 9 patients with Nelson's syndrome after the administration of saline, ovine corticotrophin releasing factor (oCRF), bromocriptine or TRH. The concentrations of ACTH were grossly elevated and alpha-MSH levels ranged from undetectable to higher than the normal range. In seven of eight subjects there was a rapid corticotrophic response, but no change in the alpha-MSH level, following oCRF. This response was delayed in one subject. Following oCRF injection, the plasma oCRF profile was variable but circulating oCRF was detectable even at the end of the experiment in all cases. There was no significant change in circulating ACTH or alpha-MSH following either bromocriptine or TRH. Cultured tumour cells from one case of Cushing's disease showed a corticotrophic response but no change in alpha-MSH to oCRF and the response was enhanced by vasopressin. Bromocriptine added to the same tumour depressed ACTH secretion without affecting the output of alpha-MSH. The present data suggest that the tumours in these subjects are responsive to oCRF and arise from corticotrophs rather than melanotrophs.
The hypothesis is that a functional deficiency of alpha-melanotropin (alpha-MSH) is the primary event in the development of Alzheimer's disease. Beginning with the concept that Alzheimer's disease occurs because of a deficiency of a neurotrophic factor specific for central cholinergic neurons data is then presented to support the hypothesis that alpha-MSH is the critical neurotrophic factor.
Immunoreactive alpha-MSH was found in human plasma and in normal subjects ranged from less than 10-45 pg/ml. Plasma alpha-MSH concentrations were within the normal range in 13 out of 15 subjects during the last trimester of normal pregnancy and only just outside the normal range in the remaining two. Elevated plasma alpha-MSH concentrations were found in 6 of the 11 patients with Nelson's syndrome and in 10 of the 11 patients with pituitary dependent Cushing's disease. Separation on high pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC) revealed two major peaks of immunoreactivity. These peaks, which were identified as des-acetyl alpha-MSH and alpha-MSH were similar in size in normal subjects and Cushing's disease. In Nelson's syndrome, on the other hand, there was a greater proportion of des-acetyl alpha-MSH and it is possible that this peptide is secreted from tumour cells of anterior lobe origin. Although there was no correlation between the circulating alpha-MSH and the degree of pigmentation the high concentrations of plasma immunoreactive alpha-MSH in Cushing's disease and the HPLC profiles in Nelson's syndrome could provide useful information as to the localization of the defects in these particular disorders.
In this paper, initial work on MSH at Dr. Lerner's laboratory in Portland, Oregon, from 1952 to 1954 is presented. The development of an in vitro bioassay method enabled us to show increased urinary excretion of MSH in Addison's disease. The ability of MSH to increase skin pigmentation in man was also demonstrated. Subsequent work on MSH during the past thirty years is reviewed, such as characterization of alpha- and beta-MSH and their precursors in the pituitary gland and localization of MSH-like peptides in various regions of the brain. Finally there are presented the characterization of gamma-MSH, the hypothermic effect of intracisternal administration of gamma-MSH, the effect of corticortropin releasing factor on increased secretion of alpha-MSH from rat pituitary, and the effect of arginine vasopressin on secretion of alpha-MSH from pituitary adenoma.
The cytoplasmic secretory granules of corticotrophs in the anterior pituitary are basophil in trichrome stains and periodic acid-Schiff positive in the histochemical stain for glycoprotein due to their content of the glycosylated 16 000 N-terminal fragment of the precursor protein proopiomelanocorticotrophin (POC). The granules show a positive immunocytochemical reaction to antibodies raised against ACTH, beta-endorphin and N-terminal fragments of POC. A small subset of corticotrophs contains immunoreactive alpha MSH in addition. Immunocytochemistry shows the corticotrophs to constitute about 15-20% of the anterior pituitary cells arranged both singly and in clumps. They are distributed in the median wedge and anteriorly, laterally and posteriorly adjacent to the pars nervosa which is often 'invaded' by corticotroph basophils. The alpha MSH subset is prominent in the rudimentary intermediate lobe and is scattered anteriorly in the pituitary of the human fetus. Crooke cell hyalinization is associated with pathologically maintained hypercortisolaemia and with glucosteroid therapy. The hyalinization is demonstrated in ultrastructure to be due to massive accumulation of intermediate cytoplasmic filaments 7-8 nm in diameter that are normally present in only small number. The change is associated with a varying degree of loss of secretory granules. In untreated Addison's disease there is a marked increase in the number of corticotrophs, many of which are arranged in distended alveoli to form micronodules. The vast majority of cases of pituitary-dependent Cushing's disease and all cases of Nelson's syndrome are associated with a basophil or chromophobe adenoma. These give a positive immunocytochemical reaction with anti-ACTH, beta-endorphin and N-terminal POC. In ultrastructure the cells of the chromophobe adenomas are seen to contain sparse secretory granules that are usually smaller than those in the chromophil adenomas. There are only very few reports of pituitary-dependent Cushing's disease found to be due to immunocytochemically confirmed corticotroph hyperplasia with or without a corticotroph adenoma. A few cases have been described in which the adenoma cells show Crooke's hyalinization, associated in one example with secretion of a big ACTH found more typically in ectopic ACTH-secreting tumours. A group of cases due to corticotroph adenoma has been reported whose excessive ACTH secretion is reduced by treatment with the dopamine agonist bromocriptine, in which it is suggested that the tumour cells arise from a subset of corticotrophs of pars intermedia origin.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)
The application of modern investigative techniques, particularly electron microscopy and immunohistochemistry, to the pituitary gland in Cushing's disease have confirmed that in the majority of cases (up to 90% in some series) the disease is due to a corticotroph microadenoma. It has also been shown that the tumours may produce not only ACTH, but also other peptides derived from the same precursor molecule, pro-opiomelanocortin and, in a small minority of cases, other pituitary hormones (e.g. prolactin). Since these peptides are known to have physiological actions they may account for some of the varied symptoms and signs of Cushing's disease. Because of the high incidence of single tumours the treatment of choice in many centres has become selective adenomectomy by the transsphenoidal route. However, a minority of cases appear to be the result of primary hypothalamic or central abnormalities and this may account for the identification of a normal pituitary gland or of corticotroph hyperplasia (with or without tumour formation). It is not possible at the present to identify these groups of patients on the basis of biochemical testing. It is hoped that detailed prospective studies correlating hormone secretion, responses to biochemical testing and detailed investigation of pathological tissue will provide further insight into the pathogenesis of particular variants of the disease.
Addison's disease is an uncommon disorder whose dermatologic manifestations range from vitiligo to hyperpigmentation. The association of adrenal autoantibodies and vitiligo has made the latter a possible cutaneous marker for an autoimmune cause. The other cutaneous marker, hyperpigmentation, is now more clearly understood on the basis of a prohormone common to both adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) and melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH).
The neuropeptides vasopressin, adrenocorticotropin (ACTH), and beta-endorphin seem to have important effects on memory and learning. Animal studies attempting to demonstrate these effects are difficult to interpret because of the complexity of behavior that is described as "learning" and the impossibility of assessing verbal learning in animals. This article therefore reviews some of the animal literature on neuropeptides and learning, but focuses primarily upon studies in humans, both in normal volunteers and in patients with neurological disorders. Vasopressin enhances learning under some conditions. Intranasal administration has been associated with improvement on psychometric tests in patients with mild Alzheimer's disease and Korsakoff's psychosis, although these findings are not uniform. It improves performance on memory tests in normal volunteers, but does not seem to improve the memory deficit after head trauma. Cerebrospinal fluid levels are low in patients with Alzheimer's disease. ACTH and melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH) are two peptides the primary behavioral effect of which seems to be on attention or goal-motivated behavior rather than on memory processes themselves. Visual discrimination and the ability to continue repetitive tasks are enhanced; in mentally retarded subjects, the administration of ACTH or MSH improves performance on a variety of neuropsychological tests. It does not, however, improve cognitive function in the elderly. Endogenous opioids including beta-endorphin and met-enkephalin seem to have primarily an amnesic effect in animal studies. Their role in human learning is still uncertain, although naloxone, which antagonizes their effects, has been associated with improved cognitive performance in patients with Alzheimer's disease. These data underscore the complexity of the processes associated with human memory and the rudimentary state of our present knowledge. Whatever the mechanisms, however, vasopressin, ACTH, and endogenous opioids seem to have important effects upon memory.