Production and effects of α-melanocyte-stimulating hormone during acute lung injury

Gualtiero Colombo, Stefano Gatti, Andrea Sordi, Flavia Turcatti, Andrea Carlin, Claudia Rossi, Caterina Lonati, Anna Catania

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


α-Melanocyte-stimulating hormone (α-MSH) is a peptide with broad anti-inflammatory effects. The present research was designed to determine production and effects of α-MSH in acute bleomycin-induced lung injury in rats. Intratracheal bleomycin instillation induced α-MSH expression in lung infiltrating cells and a marked peptide increase in the circulation. In experiments on the therapeutic potential of α-MSH on lung injury, we determined influences of the synthetic α-MSH analogue [Nle-dPhe]-α- MSH (NDP-α-MSH) on pulmonary edema, circulating nitric oxide, and gene expression profile in lungs 8 and 24 h after bleomycin instillation. Three main gene categories, known to be involved in the development of acute lung injury, were explored: stress response, inflammation, and fluid homeostasis. Peptide treatment was associated with a significant reduction in interstitial edema, with a virtually normal wet/dry weight ratio. Several stress-related genes, which were either upregulated or reduced by bleomycin, were only marginally altered during NDP-α-MSH treatment. NDP-α-MSH prevented bleomycin-related transcriptional alterations in genes involved in lung fluid homeostasis, including upregulation of Na/K-transporting ATPase and epithelial sodium channels and downregulation of cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator. Bleomycin-induced expression of proinflammatory and profibrotic factors (interleukin 6, tumor necrosis factor-α, transforming growth factor-β1, and inducible nitric oxide synthase) and chemokines (chemokine [C-C motif] ligand 2 and chemokine [C-C motif] ligand 5) was likewise significantly reduced by NDP-α-MSH. In conclusion, treatment with the α-MSH analogue NDP-α-MSH greatly improved the clinical and molecular picture of bleomycin-induced lung injury. Treatment with α-MSH-related agents can exert beneficial effects in acute lung injury.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)326-333
Number of pages8
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2007


  • Bleomycin
  • Chemokines
  • Cytokines
  • Gene expression profiling
  • Lung inflammation
  • Melanocortin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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