Melanocyte stimulating hormone

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Common Name:Melanocyte stimulating hormone
Other Names, such as IUPAC Name
Melanotropin alpha, alpha-MSH, α-MSH, melanotropin beta, beta-MSH, β-MSH, melanotropin gamma, gamma-MSH, γ-MSH
Biochemical Information
Molecular Structure
Important Issues in Man
Relevant Clinical Literature
UK Guidance
Other Wikis
Wikipedia on Melanocyte stimulating hormone (Less technical, ? quality control)

There are three peptides processed from corticotropin-lipotropin all sharing the same 7 key amino acids (4 are shared across mammals His-Phe-Arg-Trp) which they also share with ACTH:

  1. Melanotropin alpha, alpha-MSH, α-MSH
  2. Melanotropin beta, beta-MSH, β-MSH
  3. Melanotropin gamma, gamma-MSH, γ-MSH

The four molecules (including ACTH) have differential activity at the melanotrophin receptors:

  1. Melanocortin receptor 1 coded at 16q24.3 - found in melanocytes and appears to be the α-MSH receptor
  2. Melanocortin receptor 2 coded at 18p11.2 - expressed in the adrenal and is thus also known as the ACTH receptor
  3. Melanocortin receptor 3 coded at 20q13.2 - implicated in obesity and diabetes
  4. Melanocortin receptor 4 coded at 18q22 - commonest genetic mutation as cause of obesity
  5. Melanocortin receptor 5 coded at 18p11.2 - possibly involved in immunomodulation properties of the melanocortins and directed at α-MSH as does not bind at the 7 key peptides[1]


Very complex with implications as wide as hypertension, grooming, stretching, yawning and sexual behaviour as well as classical pigmentation, stress and lipid metabolism.