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Neuroendocrine activity of the melanocyte

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Please cite this paper as: Neuroendocrine activity of the melanocyte. Experimental Dermatology 2009; 18: 760–763. Abstract: 

More than 15 years ago, we have proposed that melanocytes are sensory and regulatory cells with computing capability, which transform external and/or internal signals/energy into organized regulatory network(s) for the maintenance of the cutaneous homeostasis. This concept is substantiated by accumulating evidence that melanocytes produce classical stress neurotransmitters, neuropeptides and hormones, express corresponding receptors and these processes are modified and/or regulated by ultraviolet radiation, biological factors or stress. Examples of the above are catecholamines, serotonin, N-acetyl-serotonin, melatonin, proopiomelanocortin-derived adrenocorticotropic hormone, β-endorphin or melanocyte-stimulating hormone peptides, corticotropin releasing factor, related urocortins and corticosteroids including cortisol and corticosterone as well as their precursors. Furthermore, their production is not random, but hierarchical and follows the structures of classical neuroendocrine organizations such as hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, serotoninergic, melatoninergic and catecholaminergic systems. An example of an intrinsic but overlooked neuroendocrine activity is production and secretion of melanogenesis intermediates includingl-DOPA or its derivatives that could enter circulation and act on distant sites. Such capabilities have defined melanocytes as neuroendocrine cells that not only coordinate cutaneous but also can affect a global homeostasis.
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Keywords: homeostasis; hormones; melanocytes; neurotransmitters; regulatory network; sensory functions; stress

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2009

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