The neuropeptide α-MSH in host defense

Anna Catania, Mariagrazia Cutuli, Letizia Garofalo, Andrea Carlin, Lorena Airaghi, Wilma Barcellini, James M. Lipton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The presence of the ancient peptide α-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (α-MSH) in barrier organs such as gut and skin suggests that this potent anti-inflammatory molecule may be a component of the innate host defense. In tests of antimicrobial activities, α-MSH and its fragment KPV showed inhibitory influences against the gram-positive bacterium Staphylococcus aureus and the yeast Candida albicans. Anti-tumor necrosis factor and antimicrobial effects of α-MSH suggest that the peptide might likewise reduce replication of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Treatment with α-MSH reduced HIV replication in chronically and acutely infected human monocytes. At the molecular level, α-MSH inhibited activation of the transcription factor NF-κB known to enhance HIV expression, α-MSH that combines antipyretic, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial effects could be useful in the treatment of disorders in which infection and inflammation coexist.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-231
Number of pages5
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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