Administration of melanotropic peptides during gestation in the rodent

Brenda V. Dawson, Christine A. Ford, Hilary Holloway, Robert T. Dorr, Paula Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


A potent analogue of α-MSH (α-melanocyte stimulating hormone, S-α-melanotropin), [Nle4, D-Phe7]α-MSH, induces darkening of follicular melanocytes when injected or applied topically to the skin of mice [1]. This analogue also results in increased pigmentation when injected subcutaneously (s.c.) in humans. Toxicology studies have been performed on rodent models with administration topically or by intraperitoneal (i.p.) injection. No toxicity was observed and no pathological or significant biochemical changes were found. However there has been some controversy in the literature revolving around whether or not α-MSH is trophic for fetal growth and whether the hormone affects fetal adrenal development. These questions have been involved use of the natural hormone only. This is first to demonstrate the effects of the more potent analogue. The rat was used as the animal model to determine if the potent analogue of α-MSH affects events gestation and emrbyonic fetal development and to determine if the analogue was a development toxicant. This study also examines the effect of a melanotrophic peptide delivered directly to the conceptus in the utero during organogenesis. No changes were control fetuses. There was no evidence of premature parturition or pigmentation changes in the fetuses. The work reported in this study is of relevance if such a melanotrophic peptide is ton be used in women of childbearing age to induced pigmentation of the skin. Although the present results cannot necessarily be extrapolated to humans, indications are that, in rodents at least, Nle4,D-Phe7]α-MSH and natural α-MSH have no adverse effects when administered during gestation and fetal development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-101
Number of pages11
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 29 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • Fetal development
  • Pigmentation
  • α-Melanocyte stimulating hormone (MSH)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology


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