Harnessing the Melanocortin System in the control of food intake and glucose homeostasis

Patrick Swan, Brett Johnson, Carel W le Roux, Alexander D Miras

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The central and peripheral melanocortin system, comprising of five receptors and their endogenous ligands, is responsible for a wide array of physiological functions such as skin pigmentation, sexual function and development, and inflammation. A growing body of both clinical and pre-clinical research is demonstrating the relevance of this system in metabolic health. Disruption of hypothalamic melanocortin signalling is the most common cause of monogenic obesity in humans. Setmelanotide, an FDA-approved analogue of alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone (α-MSH) that functions by restoring central melanocortin signalling, has proven to be a potent pharmacological tool in the treatment of syndromic obesity. As the first effective therapy targeting the melanocortin system to treat metabolic disorders, its approval has sparked research to further harness the links between these melanocortin receptors and metabolic processes. Here, we outline the structure of the central and peripheral melanocortin system, discuss its critical role in the regulation of food intake, and review promising targets that may hold potential to treat metabolic disorders in humans.

Original languageEnglish
Article number171255
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
Early online date2 Jun 2024
Publication statusPublished online - 2 Jun 2024

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2024. Published by Elsevier Inc.


  • Melanocortin system
  • obesity
  • diabetes
  • appetite
  • glucose homeostasis
  • Appetite
  • Obesity
  • Glucose homeostasis
  • Diabetes


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