GREENBERG (1987) – Vaughan & Greenberg – propranolol retards MSH activity

Propranolol, a beta-adrenergic antagonist, retards response to MSH in skin of Anolis carolinensis.


Vaughan GL, Greenberg N. 1987.

Physiol. Behav. 40(5): 555-558

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Lacking sympathetic innervation, the skin of A. carolinensis, an iguanid lizard, darkens within minutes in response to circulating melanocyte stimulating hormone (MSH) or beta adrenergic agonists such as epinephrine (EPI). This change is produced by dispersion of melanin from a perinculear position within dermal melanophores into superficial dendritic processes. These melanophores possess alpha-2 and beta-2 adrenergic as well as MSH receptors except in a patch of skin behind the eye, the eyespot, which lacks alpha receptors. Activation of beta or MSH receptors leads to stimulation of adenyl cyclase whereas alpha stimulation inhibits the enzyme to override the others. In a series of trials, injection of saline or propranolol was followed after 30 minutes by saline, EPI, or MSH. Propranolol inhibited chromatophore response to EPI. It also, unexpectedly, retarded the response to MSH, increasing latency to eyespot formation and body color change as well as the duration of darkening for both. Alteration of MSH response by a beta blocker could be explained by linkage of both adrenergic receptors and the MSH receptor to a common adenyl cyclase molecule to form a functional unit in the membrane of the melanophore.