Cutaneous immunomodulation and coordination of skin stress responses by α-melanocyte-stimulating hormone A

Thomas A. Luger, Thomas Scholzen, Thomas Brzoska, Eva Becher, Andrzej Slominski, Ralf Paus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Scopus citations


The capacity of the skin immune system to mount various types of immune responses is largely dependent on their ability to release and respond to different signals provided by immunoregulatory mediators such as cytokines. There is recent evidence that neuropeptides such as α-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (αMSH), upon stimulation, are released by epidermal cells including keratinocytes, Langerhans cells, and melanocytes as well as immunocompetent cells. Moreover, αMSH recently has been recognized as a potent immunomodulating agent, which inhibits the production and activity of immunoregulatory and proinflammatory cytokines such as IL-1, IL-2, interferon-γ, downregulates the expression of costimulatory molecules (B7) on antigen-presenting cells; and recently turned out to be a potent inducer of inhibitory mediators such as cytokine synthesis inhibitory factor interleukin-10. Recently, it also was discovered that monocytes among the five known melanocortin (MC) receptors only express MC-1, which is specific for αMSH. The expression of MC-1 on monocytes is upregulated by mitogens, endotoxins, and proinflammatory cytokines. There is also recent evidence for the in vivo relevance of the immunosuppressing capacity of αMSH. Accordingly, in animals αMSH has been shown to inhibit the induction of contact hypersensitivity reactions and to induce hapten-specific tolerance. These findings indicate that, in addition to the cytokine network, neurohormones within the cutaneous microenvironment are a crucial element for the induction, elicitation, and regulation of cutaneous immune and inflammatory responses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)381-394
Number of pages14
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
StatePublished - May 1 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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