Retinoic acid dampens LPS-induced NF-κB activity: results from human monoblasts and in vivo imaging of NF-κB reporter mice

Liv M. Austenaa, Harald Carlsen, Kristin Hollung, Heidi K. Blomhoff, Rune Blomhoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) is a major inducer of systemic inflammatory reactions and oxidative stress in response to microbial infections and may cause sepsis. In the present study, we demonstrate that retinoic acid inhibits LPS-induced activation in transgenic reporter mice and human monoblasts through inhibition of nuclear factor κB (NF-κB). By using noninvasive molecular imaging of NF-κB luciferase reporter mice, we showed that administration of retinoic acid repressed LPS-induced whole-body luminescence, demonstrating in vivo the dynamics of retinoic acid's ability to repress physiologic response to LPS. Retinoic acid also inhibited LPS-induced NF-κB activity in the human myeloblastic cell line U937. Retinoic-acid-receptor-selective agonists mimicked - while specific antagonists inhibited - the effects of retinoic acid, suggesting the involvement of nuclear retinoic acid receptors. Retinoic acid also repressed LPS-induced transcription of NF-κB target genes such as IL-6, MCP-1 and COX-2. The effect of retinoic acid was dependent on new protein synthesis, was obstructed by a deacetylase inhibitor and was partly eliminated by a signal transducer and activator of transcription-1 (STAT1)/methyltransferase inhibitor, indicating that retinoic acid induces a new protein, possibly STAT1, that is involved in inhibiting NF-κB. This provides more evidence for retinoic acid's anti-inflammatory potential, which may have clinical implications in terms of fighting microbial infections.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)726-734
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Nutritional Biochemistry
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2009


  • In vivo imaging
  • Inflammation
  • LPS
  • Retinoic acid
  • STAT1
  • Transgenic luciferase reporter mice
  • U937 cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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