Melanocortin peptides inhibit production of proinflammatory cytokines in blood of HIV-infected patients

Anna Catania, Letizia Garofalo, Mariagrazia Cutuli, Alessandro Gringeri, Elena Santagostino, James M. Lipton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Melanocortins are proopiomelanocortin-derived peptides that include adrenocorticotropic hormone [ACTH (1-39)], α-melanocyte-stimulating hormone [α-MSH (1-13)], and related amino acid sequences. Melanocortin peptides have potent antiinflammatory/anticytokine activity. Because cytokines such as interleukin 1 (IL-1) and tumor necrosis factor (TNF) can be detrimental in HIV-infected patients, we investigated the effects of melanocortins on production of IL-1 and TNF α in the blood of HIV patients. Cytokine production was measured in whole blood samples stimulated with LPS in the presence or absence of α-MSH (1-13), α-MSH (11-13), ACTH (1-24), or ACTH (1-39). Melanocortins reduced production of both cytokines in a concentration-dependent fashion. In separate experiments on normal peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC), α-MSH (1-13) inhibited production of IL-1 β and TNF α induced by HIV envelope glycoprotein gp 120. These results suggest that stimulation of melanocortin receptors in inflammatory cells could be a novel way to reduce production of cytokines that promote HIV replication.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1099-1104
Number of pages6
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1998


  • α-melanocyte-stimulating hormone
  • Adrenocorticotropic hormone
  • Human immunodeficiency virus
  • Interleukin I
  • Melanocortin peptides
  • TNF α

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Physiology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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