Plasma alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone: sex differences and correlations with obesity.


Journal Article

Rodent experiments raise the possibility of a regulatory role of peripheral alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH) in obesity and metabolism, but human data on peripheral alpha-MSH levels remain fragmentary. Because of the possible relationship between alpha-MSH and obesity, we endeavored to test the hypothesis that higher levels of alpha-MSH in obese patients would correlate with leptin levels and with other markers of obesity. Sixty normal-weight to obese healthy men and women participated. Weight, measures of body composition, and diet diaries were obtained; fasting blood was analyzed for alpha-MSH, lipids, glucose, insulin, leptin, and adiponectin. To begin to understand the source of peripherally measured hormones, alpha-MSH was also measured in serum samples from 5 individuals with untreated Addison disease. Levels of alpha-MSH were higher in men vs women (10.1 +/- 4.3 vs 7.6 +/- 3.4 pmol/L, P = .019), and alpha-MSH levels were higher in patients with Addison disease vs controls (17.7 +/- 2.3 vs 8.7 +/- 0.52 pmol/L, P < .001). Measures of adiposity correlated with insulin and leptin in men and women, and with adiponectin in women. alpha-Melanocyte-stimulating hormone levels did not correlate significantly with any parameter of adiposity or diet composition. The elevated alpha-MSH levels in patients with untreated Addison disease suggest possible pituitary secretion of alpha-MSH to the periphery. The lack of correlation between peripheral alpha-MSH and parameters of adiposity suggests that endogenous plasma alpha-MSH levels are not a metric for body composition per se.

Full Text

Cited Authors

  • Donahoo, WT; Hernandez, TL; Costa, JL; Jensen, DR; Morris, AM; Brennan, MB; Hochgeschwender, U; Eckel, RH

Published Date

  • January 2009

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 58 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 16 - 21

PubMed ID

  • 19059526

Pubmed Central ID

  • 19059526

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1532-8600

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0026-0495

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.metabol.2008.07.028


  • eng