Gene expression profiling reveals multiple protective influences of the peptide alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone in experimental heart transplantation

J Immunol. 2005 Sep 1;175(5):3391-401. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.175.5.3391.


Novel therapies are sought to increase efficiency and survival of transplanted organs. Previous research on experimental heart transplantation showed that treatment with the anti-inflammatory peptide alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH) prolongs allograft survival. The aim of the present research was to determine the molecular mechanism of this protective activity. Gene expression profile was examined in heart grafts removed on postoperative days 1 and 4 from rats treated with saline or the synthetic alpha-MSH analog Nle4DPhe7 (NDP)-alpha-MSH. On postoperative day 1, the peptide induced expression of cytoskeleton proteins, intracellular kinases, transcription regulators, metallopeptidases, and protease inhibitors. Conversely, NDP-alpha-MSH repressed immune, inflammatory, cell cycle, and protein turnover mediators. Later effects of alpha-MSH treatment included down-regulation of oxidative stress response and up-regulation of ion channels, calcium regulation proteins, phosphatidylinositol signaling system, and glycolipidic metabolism. NDP-alpha-MSH exerted its effects on both Ag-dependent and -independent injury. The results indicate that NDP-alpha-MSH preserves heart function through a broad effect on multiple pathways and suggest that the peptide could improve the outcome of organ transplantation in combination with immunosuppressive treatments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Profiling*
  • Heart Transplantation*
  • Male
  • Myocardium / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred BN
  • Rats, Inbred Lew
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Transplantation, Homologous
  • alpha-MSH / analogs & derivatives*
  • alpha-MSH / therapeutic use


  • alpha-MSH
  • MSH, 4-Nle-7-Phe-alpha-
  • Calcium