The melanocortin receptor agonist NDP-MSH impairs the allostimulatory function of dendritic cells.

PMID 20074207


As alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH) is released by immunocompetent cells and has potent immunosuppressive properties, it was determined whether human dendritic cells (DCs) express the receptor for this hormone. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction detected messenger RNA specific for all of the known melanocortin receptors in DCs. Mixed lymphocyte reactions also revealed that treatment with [Nle(4), DPhe(7)]-alpha-MSH (NDP-MSH), a potent alpha-MSH analogue, significantly reduced the ability of DCs to stimulate allogeneic T cells. The expression of various cell surface adhesion, maturation and costimulatory molecules on DCs was also investigated. Although treatment with NDP-MSH did not alter the expression of CD83 and major histocompatibility complex class I and II, the surface expression of CD86 (B7.2), intercellular adhesion molecule (ICAM-1/CD54) and CD1a was reduced. In summary, our data indicate that NDP-MSH inhibits the functional activity of DCs, possibly by down-regulating antigen-presenting and adhesion molecules and that these events may be mediated via the extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1 and 2 pathway.