Peptides > Melanotan 2 (MT2)

Melanotan 2 (MT2)

Melanotan 2, also known as MT-2, is a synthetic analog of alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone. It was developed in the 1980s and has demonstrated several effects, including increasing sexual arousal, reducing compulsive/addictive behavior, suppressing appetite, and promoting the development of lean body mass. Research indicates that this peptide can stimulate melanocytes, resulting in heightened skin pigmentation. Moreover, there is ongoing investigation into its potential application in addressing autism when administered during early childhood development.

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1. Introduction to Melanotan 2 (MT2)

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2. Molecular Structure of Melanotan 2 (MT2)

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3. Research on Melanotan 2

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4. Future Prospects in Melanotan 2 Research

Introduction to Melanotan 2 (MT2)

Melanotan 2 (MT-2) is a synthetic derivative of human alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (╬▒-MSH). Developed in the 1980s at the University of Arizona, this compound was originally intended as a sunless tanning solution. However, researchers soon discovered that MT-2 had a broad spectrum of effects, including:

  1. Enhancing Sexual Arousal: MT-2 was found to increase sexual arousal.

  2. Promoting Skin Pigmentation: It induces tanning and skin pigmentation.

  3. Reducing Compulsive Behavior: MT-2 exhibits potential in reducing compulsive behaviors.

  4. Addiction Control: Researchers explored its potential in addiction management.

  5. Appetite Suppression: MT-2 has been investigated for its appetite-suppressing properties.

  6. Glucagon Production Reduction: It may reduce glucagon production.

  7. Autism Features Reversal: Studies examined its ability to reverse certain features of autism. 

Molecular Structure of Melanotan 2 (MT2)

Peptide Sequence: Nle-Asp(1)-His-D-Phe-Arg-Trp-Lys(1)
Molecular Formula: C50H69N15O9
Molecular Weight: 1024.198 g/mol
PubChem CID: 92432
CAS Number: 121062-08-6

Research on Melanotan 2 (MT2)

Melanotan 2 and Melanocortin Signaling

Melanotan 2 functions by binding with various melanocortin receptors, including MC-4R and MC-1R, with a weaker affinity for MC-3R. These receptors have distinct roles:

  • MC-1R: Found on melanocytes, MC-1R stimulation darkens the skin and hair.
  • MC-2R: Located in the adrenal glands, MC-2R activation promotes the secretion of adrenal hormones like cortisol.
  • MC-3R: MC-3R is associated with appetite regulation and energy control, with limited knowledge about its other functions.
  • MC-4R: Stimulation of MC-4R influences feeding habits, sexual behavior, male erectile function, and energy balance.
  • MC-5R: MC-5R is expressed in sweat glands and pancreatic islet cells.

Melanotan 2 and Autism

Recent research highlights that Melanotan 2 (MT-2) can ameliorate certain autism-related traits in a commonly used mouse model of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Traditional ASD treatments are limited, but new findings suggest the potential utility of oxytocin therapy in mitigating ASD-related behavioral issues. Using a mouse model associated with maternal immune activation leading to autism, scientists explored MT-2’s ability to stimulate oxytocin release and counteract ASD symptoms. The study demonstrated that MT-2 administration reverses reduced communication, impaired social interaction, and repetitive behaviors linked to autism in this specific model. Additionally, MT-2 administration was found to increase oxytocin receptor expression in specific brain regions, indicating a direct link between oxytocin signaling and ASD-specific behaviors.

These discoveries not only offer prospects for ASD treatments but also contribute to the understanding of ASD’s underlying mechanisms, potentially leading to preventive measures.

Melanotan 2 and Hunger

Compelling evidence suggests that MT-2 can reduce fat storage and hunger-related behaviors in animal models. Researchers have identified the melanocortin-4 receptor (MC-4R) as a key player in food preferences and intake, with MT-2 acting as a potent MC-4R agonist. Administering MT-2 to mice results in substantial reductions in food consumption, along with alterations in their preference for fatty foods. Mice treated with MT-2 exhibit a diminished interest in fatty foods that they would typically prefer. Conversely, mice lacking the MC-4R receptor display a strong preference for fatty foods and are resistant to MT-2’s effects.

These effects resemble those of leptin, often referred to as the “satiety hormone” due to its ability to curb cravings and reduce food intake. However, leptin has proven ineffective in obesity treatment, even in individuals deficient in leptin. This is likely due to the presence of both leptin-dependent and leptin-independent satiety pathways. MT-2 appears more effective in stimulating both pathways, making it a potential superior exogenous treatment for hunger reduction. This notion is supported by the discovery that MC-4R stimulation impacts the expression of the thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) gene, a known player in the leptin-satiety pathway. Both MT-2 and leptin are believed to elevate TRH expression in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus, a brain region linked to satiety and food intake. Notably, MT-2 is unique in its ability to reach the central nervous system in concentrations sufficient to affect TRH expression.

Melanotan 2 and Diabetes

The development of diabetes involves elevated blood sugar levels, overproduction of glucagon, and the generation of ketone bodies[6]. It has long been understood that leptin counters these factors by enhancing glucose uptake, inhibiting glucagon production, and interfering with the ketone body formation pathway. Importantly, these actions are not reliant on insulin, prompting active exploration of leptin signaling as a potential alternative for diabetes treatment.

Research has shown that leptin’s influence on blood sugar regulation involves melanocortin receptors, and Melanotan 2 (MT-2) can produce similar effects[7]. This finding holds significance because leptin primarily acts in the brain but has limited ability to cross the blood-brain barrier compared to MT-2. Consequently, exogenously administered leptin fails to reach the central nervous system in substantial quantities, reducing its effectiveness as a drug and giving MT-2 an advantage, despite the peptides’ nearly identical impact on melanocortin receptors.

Melanotan 2, Impulse Control, and Alcohol Intake

In line with the notion that MT-2 may affect oxytocin signaling and, consequently, behavior in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), research also indicates that the MC-4R receptor could play a role in impulse control. Previous studies in rats have demonstrated that MT-2 administration reduces alcohol consumption and increases water intake, even in rats that typically prefer alcohol[8]. More recent investigations have revealed that Melanotan-2 synergizes with naltrexone, enhancing its effectiveness more than sevenfold in reducing binge-like ethanol consumption in mice[9].

These findings suggest that MT-2 might not only be a valuable treatment for alcohol-related disorders but could also be influencing a fundamental process related to cravings and desires in the mammalian brain. This research may open up avenues to better understand not only alcohol abuse and hunger but also the role of oxytocin in impulsive behavior, potentially advancing our comprehension of human motivation in various aspects of life, from work to relationships.

Melanotan 2 and Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is often attributed to vascular issues and is effectively treated in a majority of men with medications like sildenafil (Viagra), which improve blood flow by reducing vascular resistance. However, not all ED cases stem from vascular problems, and thus, sildenafil and similar drugs are ineffective in a small portion of men and most women with hypoactive sexual desire disorder. It has long been recognized that MT-2 is an efficacious treatment for ED, with research suggesting broader applications than drugs like sildenafil due to its actions in the central nervous system. In a study involving men who had not responded to Viagra treatment, eighty percent showed positive responses to MT-2 treatment[10]. MT-2 has been actively examined as a potential treatment for both male and female sexual desire disorders.

Percent of baseline alcohol consumption in mice treated with naltrexone or naltrexone and MT-2.

Future Prospects in Melanotan 2 Research

MT-2 remains a subject of extensive research, particularly in the realms of human behavior, sexual desire, and impulse control. Various forms of this peptide have been studied in clinical trials, although challenges related to administration methods have prompted researchers to reevaluate their approaches. Ongoing investigations continue to explore the potential benefits of MT-2, making it a subject of active scientific interest.

MT-2 exhibits minimal to moderate side effects, possesses low oral and excellent subcutaneous bioavailability in mice. However, the dosage per kilogram in mice is not directly applicable to humans. It’s essential to note that MT-2 available for purchase from Peptide Sciences is intended solely for educational and scientific research purposes and is not meant for human consumption. Buyers should only consider MT-2 if they hold appropriate research licenses.

Article Author

The above literature was researched, edited and organized by Dr. Logan, M.D. Dr. Logan holds a doctorate degree from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and a B.S. in molecular biology.

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