The neuropeptide alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone: a key component of neuroimmunomodulation.

A. Catania, J. M. Lipton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent research indicates that the proopiomelanocortin derivative alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH) is a significant modulator of host reactions including fever and inflammation. Although the precise mechanism of action is still unknown, cytokine antagonism is believed to be responsible for at least a part of its anti-inflammatory/antipyretic influence: alpha-MSH antagonizes pyrogenic and proinflammatory effects of cytokines such as interleukin-1 (IL-1), interleukin-6 (IL-6), tumor necrosis factor (TNF), and interferon gamma (IFN gamma). Although it is clear that the peptide can act within the brain to inhibit fever and peripheral inflammation, an anti-inflammatory effect on a peripheral target was evidenced in animals with transection of the spinal cord. Recent data show that alpha-MSH is significant also in human disorders such as AIDS, rheumatoid arthritis, and myocardial infarction. This molecule is believed to be a key factor in neuroimmunomodulation and it may be useful as a therapeutic agent in control of inflammatory reactions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-99
Number of pages7
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Immunology
  • Neuroscience(all)


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