LabCorp

Melanocyte-stimulating Hormone (MSH)

Optimal Result: 0 - 40 pg/mL.

What is Melanocyte-stimulating Hormone (MSH)?

Melanocyte-Stimulating hormone (MSH) characterizes a group of hormones made by the pituitary gland, hypothalamus, and skin cells. MSH is essential for preserving the skin from ultraviolet rays, the development of pigmentation, and controlling appetite. 

Functions of Melanocyte-stimulating Hormone (MSH):

- MSH sits as the central hub of a series of important effects.
- MSH controls hypothalamic production of melatonin and endorphins.
- MSH modulates the immune system and controls nerve function
- MSH controls many protective effects in the skin, gut and mucus membranes of the nose and lung. 
- MSH controls the peripheral release of cytokines; when there isn't enough MSH, the peripheral inflammatory effects are multiplied.
- MSH also controls pituitary function, with 60% of MSH deficient patients not having enough antidiuretic hormone.

Where is Melanocyte-stimulating Hormone (MSH) being produced?

It is made when leptin is able to activate its receptor in the proopio-melanocortin (POMC) pathway. If the receptor is damaged by peripheral immune effects, such as the release of too many pro-inflammatory cytokines, then the receptor doesn't work right and MSH is not made. Leptin controls storage of fatty acids as fat, so MSH and leptin are a major source of interest.

What does it mean if your Melanocyte-stimulating Hormone (MSH) result is too low?

MSH deficiency causes chronic fatigue and chronic pain. 

Without MSH, deficiency creates chronic non-restful sleep and chronic increased perception of pain, respectively. 

MSH also controls pituitary function, with 60% of MSH deficient patients not having enough antidiuretic hormone. These patients will be thirsty all the time, urinate frequently and often will have unusual sensitivity to static electrical shocks. 

40% of MSH deficient patients won't regulate male hormone production and another 40% won't regulate proper control of ACTH and cortisol.

What does it mean if your Melanocyte-stimulating Hormone (MSH) result is too high?

Having high levels of MSH leads to increased production of melanin. This enhancement occurs due to long-term sun exposure or tanning. People with very light skin often make less melanin because their MSH receptors vary. This means they don't respond to the MSH levels in their blood. 

Hyperpigmentation (darkening of the skin) is a common skin concern in patients with adrenal insufficiency (low levels of adrenal hormones, mainly cortisol).

As a result, the hypothalamus stimulates the pituitary gland to make more hormones that might "boost" the adrenal glands. This hormone can be broken down to make MSH, which causes hyperpigmentation. 

MSH levels are also high during pregnancy and in women who take birth control pills, which can also cause hyperpigmentation. 

Cushing's syndrome, another endocrine condition, can also lead to hyperpigmentation.

10 000+ happy clients
100% satisfaction
★★★★★ customer support

Understand blood, stool, and urine medical results from your labs.

Get 10% off your plan.

Use promocode

Advanced Plan personal plan


  • Yearly subscription
  • Instant interpretation
  • We upload five reports for you
  • Use the free self-upload form
  • 2500+ biomarkers explained
  • Nutrition Recommendations
  • Online support
  • Cancel anytime

Own It For Life premium personal plan


  • No subscription
  • Unlimited access
  • Unlimited storage
  • Instant interpretations
  • We upload ten reports for you
  • Use the free self-upload form
  • 2500+ biomarkers explained
  • Nutrition Recommendations
  • Dedicated support

Pro Plan for health professionals


  • Track multiple clients results
  • No setup fees
  • No hidden costs
  • Cancel anytime
  • Instant interpretations
  • Use the free template forms
  • 2500+ biomarkers explained
  • Additional team member $25
  • Personal training and support

Healthmatters.io software for professional use.

Welcome to Healthmatters Pro.

Save time on interpreting lab results with the largest database of biomarkers online. In-depth research on any test at your fingertips, all stored and tracked in one place.

Learn More


We implement proven measures to keep your data safe.

At HealthMatters, we're committed to maintaining the security and confidentiality of your personal information. We've put industry-leading security standards in place to help protect against the loss, misuse, or alteration of the information under our control. We use procedural, physical, and electronic security methods designed to prevent unauthorized people from getting access to this information. Our internal code of conduct adds additional privacy protection. All data is backed up multiple times a day and encrypted using SSL certificates. See our Privacy Policy for more details.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). HIPAA compliance for healthcare professionals
×

Understand Your Lab Result Now

  • Instant interpretation
  • 2500+ biomarkers explained
  • Science-based recommendations
  • Online support
  • Secure and private portal

Get 10% off with promocode:

;