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Giornale Italiano di Dermatologia e Venereologia 1999 October;134(5):441-9

Copyright © 1999 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: Italian

α-MSH and β-endorphin, proopiomelanocortin-derived peptides: neuropeptides emerging in skin immunomodulation

Teofoli P. 1, Lotti T. 2, Puddu P. 1

1 Istituto Dermopatico dell’Immacolata, IDI, IRCCS - Roma, Dipartimento di Immunodermatologia; 2 Università degli Studi - Firenze, Clinica Dermatologica


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Proopiomelanocortin (POMC) is the precursor for the neuropeptides adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), melanocyte-stimulating hormones (MSHs), lipotropic hormones and endorphins (EP). It is primary expressed in the pituitary gland but POMC transcripts have been detected in different peripheral tissues including reproductive tract, placenta, immune system and more recently POMC gene expression has been reported in vitro in human keratinocytes and POMC-derived peptides have been also detected in the skin. These peptides can function as hormones, neurotransmitters or paracrine growth factors and POMC-derived peptides have been shown to play a pivotal role in immunomodulation. There is strong evidence that α-MSH in cutaneous immune and inflammatory responses such as contact hypersensitivity and irritant dermatitis and modulates IgE release by human peripheral blood monocytes, downregulates production of interferon-γ by lymphocytes and induces selectively interleukin 10 production. Although β-EP is reported to modulate immunoglobulin synthesis as well as to increase lymphocyte proliferation and natural killer cell activity in vitro, in vivo it seems to have an immunosuppressive activity. Review of literature and personal experimental data are reported with considerations related to α-MSH and β-endorphin and their discussed role in skin physiology and pathology.

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