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      Antifibrotic and Anti-Inflammatory Actions of α-Melanocytic Hormone: New Roles for an Old Player

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          Abstract

          The melanocortin system encompasses melanocortin peptides, five receptors, and two endogenous antagonists. Besides pigmentary effects generated by α-Melanocytic Hormone (α-MSH), new physiologic roles in sexual activity, exocrine secretion, energy homeostasis, as well as immunomodulatory actions, exerted by melanocortins, have been described recently. Among the most common and burdensome consequences of chronic inflammation is the development of fibrosis. Depending on the regenerative capacity of the affected tissue and the quality of the inflammatory response, the outcome is not always perfect, with the development of some fibrosis. Despite the heterogeneous etiology and clinical presentations, fibrosis in many pathological states follows the same path of activation or migration of fibroblasts, and the differentiation of fibroblasts to myofibroblasts, which produce collagen and α-SMA in fibrosing tissue. The melanocortin agonists might have favorable effects on the trajectories leading from tissue injury to inflammation, from inflammation to fibrosis, and from fibrosis to organ dysfunction. In this review we briefly summarized the data on structure, receptor signaling, and anti-inflammatory and anti-fibrotic properties of α-MSH and proposed that α-MSH analogues might be promising future therapeutic candidates for inflammatory and fibrotic diseases, regarding their favorable safety profile.

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          Most cited references 193

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          IL-6 in inflammation, immunity, and disease.

          Interleukin 6 (IL-6), promptly and transiently produced in response to infections and tissue injuries, contributes to host defense through the stimulation of acute phase responses, hematopoiesis, and immune reactions. Although its expression is strictly controlled by transcriptional and posttranscriptional mechanisms, dysregulated continual synthesis of IL-6 plays a pathological effect on chronic inflammation and autoimmunity. For this reason, tocilizumab, a humanized anti-IL-6 receptor antibody was developed. Various clinical trials have since shown the exceptional efficacy of tocilizumab, which resulted in its approval for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Moreover, tocilizumab is expected to be effective for other intractable immune-mediated diseases. In this context, the mechanism for the continual synthesis of IL-6 needs to be elucidated to facilitate the development of more specific therapeutic approaches and analysis of the pathogenesis of specific diseases.
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            The role of the transcription factor CREB in immune function.

            CREB is a transcription factor that regulates diverse cellular responses, including proliferation, survival, and differentiation. CREB is induced by a variety of growth factors and inflammatory signals and subsequently mediates the transcription of genes containing a cAMP-responsive element. Several immune-related genes possess this cAMP-responsive element, including IL-2, IL-6, IL-10, and TNF-α. In addition, phosphorylated CREB has been proposed to directly inhibit NF-κB activation by blocking the binding of CREB binding protein to the NF-κB complex, thereby limiting proinflammatory responses. CREB also induces an antiapoptotic survival signal in monocytes and macrophages. In T and B cells, CREB activation promotes proliferation and survival and differentially regulates Th1, Th2, and Th17 responses. Finally, CREB activation is required for the generation and maintenance of regulatory T cells. This review summarizes current advances involving CREB in immune function--a role that is continually being defined.
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              The cloning of a family of genes that encode the melanocortin receptors.

              Melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH) and adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) regulate pigmentation and adrenal cortical function, respectively. These peptides also have a variety of biological activities in other areas, including the brain, the pituitary, and the immune system. A complete understanding of the biological activities of these hormones requires the isolation and characterization of their corresponding receptors. The murine and human MSH receptors (MSH-Rs) and a human ACTH receptor (ACTH-R) were cloned. These receptors define a subfamily of receptors coupled to guanine nucleotide-binding proteins that may include the cannabinoid receptor.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Pharmaceuticals (Basel)
                Pharmaceuticals (Basel)
                pharmaceuticals
                Pharmaceuticals
                MDPI
                1424-8247
                08 January 2021
                January 2021
                : 14
                : 1
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA; rdinpar1@ 123456jhmi.edu
                [2 ]Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care, University of Miami, Miami, FL 33146, USA
                Author notes
                [* ]Correspondence: msm249@ 123456med.miami.edu ; Tel.: +1-305-243-1377
                Article
                pharmaceuticals-14-00045
                10.3390/ph14010045
                7827684
                33430064
                © 2021 by the authors.

                Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

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