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

Expression of melanocortin-5 receptor in secretory epithelia supports a functional role in exocrine and endocrine glands.

Melanocortins (alphaMSH and ACTH-related peptides) influence the physiological functions of certain peripheral organs, including exocrine and endocrine glands. This study was designed to determine the identity and anatomical localization of the melanocortin receptors (MC-R) expressed in these organs in the rat. MC5-R messenger RNA was found in exocrine glands, including lacrimal, Harderian, preputial, and prostate glands and pancreas, as well as in adrenal gland, esophagus, and thymus, as demonstrated by ribonuclease protection assays. In exocrine glands, MC5-R messenger RNA expression was restricted to secretory epithelia. MC-R protein was likewise present in secretory epithelia of exocrine glands, as determined by 125I-labeled [Nle4,D-Phe7]alphaMSH ([125I]NDP-MSH) binding and autoradiography in tissue sections. Specific [125I]NDP-MSH binding was also observed in adrenal cortex, thymus, spleen, and esophageal and trachealis muscle. MC receptors in these sites are accessible to circulating MC-R agonists in vivo, as specific binding of [125I]NDP-MSH was observed in exocrine and adrenal glands after systemic injection in vivo. Taken together, these findings show that the MC5 receptor is commonly and selectively expressed in exocrine glands and other peripheral organs. Based on these findings and compelling evidence from other studies, a functional coherence is suggested between central and peripheral actions of melanocortins and melanocortin receptors in physiological functions, including thermoregulation, immunomodulation, and sexual behavior.[1]


  1. Expression of melanocortin-5 receptor in secretory epithelia supports a functional role in exocrine and endocrine glands. van der Kraan, M., Adan, R.A., Entwistle, M.L., Gispen, W.H., Burbach, J.P., Tatro, J.B. Endocrinology (1998) [Pubmed]
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