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The issue of which melanocortin receptor (MC-R) is responsible for the anti-inflammatory effects of melanocortin peptides is still a matter of debate. Here we have addressed this aspect using a dual pharmacological and genetic approach, taking advantage of the recent characterization of more selective agonists/antagonists at MC1 and MC3-R as well as of the existence of a naturally defective MC1-R mouse strain, the recessive yellow (e/e) mouse. RT-PCR and ultrastructural analyses showed the presence of MC3-R mRNA and protein in peritoneal macrophages (M phi) collected from recessive yellow (e/e) mice and wild-type mice. This receptor was functional as Mphi incubation (30 min) with melanocortin peptides led to accumulation of cAMP, an effect abrogated by the MC3/4-R antagonist SHU9119, but not by the selective MC4-R antagonist HS024. In vitro M phi activation, determined as release of the CXC chemokine KC and IL-1 beta, was inhibited by the more selective MC3-R agonist gamma(2)-melanocyte stimulating hormone but not by the selective MC1-R agonist MS05. Systemic treatment of mice with a panel of melanocortin peptides inhibited IL-1 beta release and PMN accumulation elicited by urate crystals in the murine peritoneal cavity. MS05 failed to inhibit any of the inflammatory parameters either in wild-type or recessive yellow (e/e) mice. SHU9119 prevented the inhibitory actions of gamma(2)-melanocyte stimulating hormone both in vitro and in vivo while HS024 was inactive in vivo. In conclusion, agonism at MC3-R expressed on peritoneal M phi leads to inhibition of experimental nonimmune peritonitis in both wild-type and recessive yellow (e/e) mice.

Original publication




Journal article


J Immunol

Publication Date





3323 - 3330


Animals, Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal, Cell Movement, Cells, Cultured, Crystallization, Cytokines, Genes, Recessive, Injections, Intraperitoneal, Macrophages, Peritoneal, Male, Melanocyte-Stimulating Hormones, Mice, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Mice, Mutant Strains, Peritonitis, Pigmentation, Receptor, Melanocortin, Type 3, Receptors, Corticotropin, Receptors, Melanocortin, Uric Acid, gamma-MSH