Melanotan II is a synthetic analogue of the peptide hormone α-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (α-MSH).
It was under development as drug candidate for female sexual dysfunction and erectile dysfunction but clinical development ceased by 2003, and as of 2018, no product containing melanotan II was marketed and all commercial development had ceased. Unlicensed, untested, or fraudulent products sold as “melanotan II” are found on the Internet, and purported to be effective as “tanning drugs”, though side effects such as uneven pigmentation, new nevi (moles), and darkening or enlargement of existing moles are common and have led to medical authorities discouraging use.
Melanotan II acts as a non-selective agonist of the melanocortin receptors MC1, MC3, MC4, and MC5.
To the extent that melanotan II produces melanogenesis, this is thought to be caused by activation of the MC1 receptor, whereas its clinically documented sexual effects are thought to be related to its ability to activate the MC4 receptor (though the MC3 is thought to possibly also be involved).
Other effects of melanotan II, mostly regarded as adverse effects, include flushing, nausea, vomiting, stretching, yawning, and loss of appetite (the last via activation of MC4).
“Melanotan II”. AdisInsight. Retrieved 13 Jan 2018.
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