A review of melanocortin receptor small molecule ligands

Peptides. 2005 Oct;26(10):2026-36. doi: 10.1016/j.peptides.2004.11.024.


The melanocortin system (MC) is implicated in the regulation of a variety of physiological pathways including pigmentation, steroid function, energy homeostasis, food intake, obesity, cardiovascular, sexual function, and normal gland regulation. The melanocortin system consists of five receptors identified to date (MC1-5R), melanocortin agonists derived from the pro-opiomelanocortin prohormone (POMC) and two naturally existing antagonists. Melanocortin receptor ligand structure-activity studies have been performed since the 1960s, primarily focused on the pigmentation aspect of physiology. During the 1990s, the melanocortin-4 receptor was identified to play a significant physiological role in the regulation of both food intake and obesity. Subsequently, a concerted drug design effort has focused on the design and discovery of melanocortin receptor small molecules. Herein, we present an overview of melanocortin receptor heterocyclic small molecules.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Binding Sites / physiology
  • Drug Design*
  • Heterocyclic Compounds / chemical synthesis*
  • Heterocyclic Compounds / chemistry
  • Heterocyclic Compounds / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Ligands
  • Receptors, Melanocortin / chemistry
  • Receptors, Melanocortin / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Melanocortin / physiology


  • Heterocyclic Compounds
  • Ligands
  • Receptors, Melanocortin