Effects of a superpotent melanotropic peptide in combination with solar UV radiation on tanning of the skin in human volunteers

Robert T. Dorr, Gregory Ertl, Norman Levine, Chris Brooks, Jerry L. Bangert, Marianne Broome Powell, Stuart Humphrey, David S. Alberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Objective: Three phase 1 clinical trials of a superpotent melanotropic peptide, metanotan-1 (MT-1, or [Nle4-D-Phe7] α-melanocyte-stimulating hormone) were performed to demonstrate safety for MT-1 therapy combined with UV-B light or sunlight. Design: Open-label studies at 2 dose levels of MT-1 combined with small doses of UV-B to the neck or buttock or full sunlight to half of the back. Setting: Dermatology clinics at the Arizona Health Sciences Center, Tucson. Interventions: The first study randomized 4 subjects to MT-1 (0.08 mg/kg per day subcutaneously) and 4 subjects to injections of isotonic sodium chloride (9%) solution for 10 days, followed by neck irradiation with 3 times the minimal erythema dose (MED) of UV-B light. In the next study (n = 12), the MT-1 dosage was increased to 0.16 mg/kg per day for 10 days, with UV-B radiation (0.25-0.75 MED) given to a buttock site for 5 days during (n = 7) or after (n = 5) MT-1 administration. A final study randomized 8 subjects to 3 to 5 days of sunlight to half of the back or to sunlight plus 0.16 mg/kg of MT-1 for 5 days per week for 4 weeks. Results. Tanning in the first study was achieved in 3 of 4 subjects receiving MT-1, and these subjects also had 47% fewer sunburn cells at the irradiated neck site. More skin sites darkened with the higher dose of MT-1 in the second study. In the third study, there was significantly enhanced tanning of the back in the MT-1 group, and this was maintained at least 3 weeks longer than the tanning in the sunlight-only controls, who required 50% more sun-exposure time for equivalent tanning. Main Outcome Measure: There were no pathologic findings at any UV-B or sun-exposed sites in any subject. Toxic effects due to MT-1 were minor, consisting of nausea and transient facial flushing. Conclusion: Melanotan-1 can be safely combined with UV-B light or sunlight and appears to act synergistically in the tanning response to light.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)827-835
Number of pages9
JournalArchives of Dermatology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology


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