Gamma-MSH, sodium metabolism, and salt-sensitive hypertension

American Journal of Physiology. Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Michael H Humphreys


Alpha-, beta-, and gamma-melanocyte stimulating hormones (MSHs) are melanotropin peptides that are derived from the ACTH/beta-endorphin prohormone proopiomelanocortin (POMC). They have been highly conserved through evolutionary development, although their functions in mammals have remained obscure. The identification in the last decade of a family of five membrane-spanning melanocortin receptors (MC-Rs), for which the melanotropins are the natural ligands, has permitted the characterization of a number of important actions of these peptides, although the physiological function(s) of gamma-MSH have remained elusive. Much evidence indicates that gamma-MSH stimulates sympathetic outflow and raises blood pressure through a central mechanism. However, this review focuses on newer cardiovascular and renal actions of the peptide, acting in most cases through the MC3-R. In rodents, a high-sodium diet (HSD) increases the pituitary abundance of POMC mRNA and of gamma-MSH content and results in a doubling of plasma gamma-MSH concentration. The peptide is natriuretic and acts through renal MC3-Rs, which are also upregulated by the HSD. Thus the system appears designed to participate in the integrated response to dietary sodium excess. Gene...Continue Reading


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Related Concepts

Gamma-MSH receptor
Hypertensive Disease
Receptors, Pituitary Hormone
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