What is Melanotan?

Melanotan is a synthetic peptide synthesized to mimic the action of melanocortins. These melanocortins include melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH), alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (α-MSH), and adrenal-cortical-stimulating hormone (ACTH).

MSH includes a variety of peptide hormones that may trigger melanin production, which is responsible for the pigmentation of the skin and hair of many animals. This includes Melanotan 1 (MT1) and 2 (MT2).

What is Melanotan 1?

Melanotan 1, also known as Afamelanotide, is an analog of the alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (α-MSH). First synthesized at the University of Arizona in the 1980s, MT1 is currently being studied for its potential to aid in mitigating skin disorders. In Europe, the peptide is clinically administered to patients suffering from erythropoietic protoporphyria to prevent phototoxicity or sun-related damage to the skin. It was initially formulated to act as a sunless tanning agent. Researchers have also observed a possible influence in diverse physiological processes like feeding patterns, central nervous system operations, blood pressure, etc. The clinical trials involving the molecule are currently in phase II stage for keratosis (a particular kind of skin damage induced by the sun) and the more severe squamous cell carcinoma and in phase III stage for the treatment of polymorphous light eruption.

What is Melanotan 2?

Melanotan 2 or MT2 is similarly a synthetic analog of α-MSH. Like Melanotan 1, it is being researched for its potential to affect melanogenesis or the production of melanin in the skin. However, studies have found it may hold potential to induce other potential properties. Aside from stimulating melanogenesis, MT2 has been suggested by researchers to host potential effects on female sexual dysfunction and erectile dysfunction in several animal experiments conducted throughout the years.

Melanotan 2 is an upgraded synthetic variant of the human alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone. It is a melatonin modification originally developed at the University of Arizona in the 1980s. Melanotan has potential as artificial tanning agent of the skin and may help reduce the frequency of skin cancer due to UV exposure while avoiding the side effects of existing UV-blocking creams. Interestingly, the development of Melanotan has initiated studies of the entire branch of human receptor science, which deals with a new understanding of diverse physiological phenomena like hunger, sexual arousal, and autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Animal studies have highlighted the following potentials of Melanotan 2.

These include potential:

1. Sexual stimulation,
2. Enhancement of skin pigmentation, enhances cardiac function in specific settings,
3. Control of compulsive and addictive behavior,
4. Regulation of hunger as a result of leptin signaling,
5. Reduction in glucagon production,
6. Amelioration of features of autism, and
7. Improvement of cardiac function in specific settings.

Melanotan 1 vs Melanotan 2

These two peptides are almost identical to each other in terms of chemical structure and may also be similar in their mechanism of action. However, in terms of their effect, they exhibit some divergent properties.

Melanotan 1

Studies have posited that Melanotan 1 primarily appears to enhance melanogenesis through association with the melanocortin one receptor (MC1). MT1 has been studied for its potential in treating different skin-related illnesses, but its full effect is still being researched. 

It was approved by the Italian Medicines Agency [(AIFA) Agenzia Italiana del Farmaco] for the treatment of Erythropoietic Protoporphyria (EPP) in 2010. European Medicines Agency (EMA) also approved MT1 for treating phototoxicity in people with EPP in 2015. 

Melanotan 2

Similar to MT1, MT2 also appears to have the potential to enhance melanogenesis by stimulating the melanocortin one receptor. However, unlike MT1, MT2 has been reported by researchers to interact with other melanocortin receptors, specifically MC1, MC3, MC4, MC5. Stimulation of other MC receptors may lead to outcomes such as penile erection, sexual arousal, and appetite suppression.

Studies on animal and rat models have suggested that MT2 is potentially effective in stimulating the MC4 receptor. Reports reveal that MT2 is 10-100x more potent than endogenous melanocyte hormones. This results in appetite suppression and weight loss in rats.

Research Availability

It is crucial to note that even though these two peptides are almost identical, their price and availability vary. MT 1 is generally priced higher than MT 2. It is also less available in the market, unlike MT 2, which is widely available and economical.

The choice of appropriate Melanotan will largely depend on the kind of research being conducted. It is always advisable to purchase high-quality peptides (99%+ purity). It will ensure the integrity of one’s research since all the products are quality tested via mass spectrometry and HPLC. 


The peptides cited in this article are not available for personal use; they are strictly available only for research professionals for research purposes.


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