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Recent Updates on the Melanin-Concentrating Hormone (MCH) and Its Receptor System: Lessons from MCH1R Antagonists


Melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH) is a 19-amino-acid cyclic peptide which was originally found to lighten skin color in fish that is highly conserved among many species. MCH interacts with two G-protein-coupled receptors, MCH1R and MCH2R, but only MCH1R is expressed in rodents. MCH is mainly synthesized in the lateral hypothalamus and zona incerta, while MCH1R is widely expressed throughout the brain. Thus, MCH signaling is implicated in the regulation of many physiological functions. The identification of MCH1R has led to the development of small-molecule MCH1R antagonists that can block MCH signaling. MCH1R antagonists are useful not only for their potential therapeutic value, but also for understanding the physiological functions of the endogenous MCH system. Here, we review the physiological functions of the MCH system which have been investigated using MCH1R antagonists such as food intake, anxiety, depression, reward, and sleep. This will help us understand the physiological functions of the MCH system and suggest some of the potential applications of MCH1R antagonists in human disorders.

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