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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Targeting melanocortin receptors as potential novel therapeutics.

Adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH(1-39)) and the melanocortins (alpha, beta and gamma-melanocyte-stimulating hormone [MSH]) are derived from a larger precursor molecule known as the pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) protein. They exert their numerous biological effects by activating 7 transmembrane G-protein coupled receptors ( GPCR), leading to adenylyl cyclase activation and subsequent cAMP accumulation within the target cell. To date, 5 melanocortin receptors (MCR) have been identified and termed MC1R to MC5R, they have been shown to have a wide and varied distribution throughout the body, being found in the central nervous system (CNS), periphery and immune cells. Melanocortins have a multitude of actions including: (i) modulating disease pathologies including arthritis, asthma, obesity; (ii) affecting functions, for example erectile dysfunction, skin tanning; and (iii) organ systems, for example cardiovascular system. Recently a mechanistic approach has been identified with alpha-MSH preventing NF-kappaB activation via the preservation and expression of IkappaBalphaprotein. This leads to a reduction of pro-inflammatory mediators including cytokines and inhibition of adhesion molecule expression, with subsequent reduction in leukocyte emigration. Development of selective ligands with an appropriate pharmacokinetic profile will enable a pharmacological evaluation of the potential beneficial effects of the melanocortins. In this review I have discussed the potential mechanistic action for the melanocortins and some of the disease pathologies shown to be modulated. This review proposes targeting the MCR with the ultimate aim of controlling many of the diseases that we face today.[1]


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