Melanotropins as drugs for the treatment of obesity and other feeding disorders: Potential and problems

Minying Cai, Joel Nyberg, Victor J. Hruby

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Current biological and pharmacological evidence suggests that the melanocortin 4 and melanocortin 3 receptors which are seven transmembrane G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) are involved in various aspects of energy balance and feeding behaviors in animals including humans. The natural endogenous ligands for these receptors are products of the gene pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC), and include α-melanocyte stimulating hormone, γ-melanocyte stimulating hormone and perhaps other modified products of POMC. Thus well designed agonists and antagonists of these ligands might serve as drugs for the treatment of feeding disorders. However, these melanotropin peptides also can have other biological activities that involve the MC3R and MC4R, and these other biological properties will need to be modulated in ligands that are likely to be useful drugs for feeding disorders. Current progress in these areas with special emphasis on the MC3R will be discussed along with possible new directions that might be fruitful in these important aspects of contemporary biology and medicine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)554-563
Number of pages10
JournalCurrent topics in medicinal chemistry
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2009


  • Anorexia
  • MC3R
  • MC4R
  • Melanocortin genes
  • Melanotropin peptides
  • Obesity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Drug Discovery


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