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Int Immunopharmacol. 2010 Jul;10(7):799-805. doi: 10.1016/j.intimp.2010.04.022. Epub 2010 May 10.

Retinoic acid attenuates lipopolysaccharide-induced inflammatory responses by suppressing TLR4/NF-kappaB expression in rat mammary tissue.

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College of Veterinary Medicine, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing, Jiangsu Province 210095, China.


The retinoids, a group of natural or synthetic derivatives of vitamin A, exert various anti-neoplastic and immunomodulatory actions. Recent studies have demonstrated that retinoic acid protects rats against lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced mastitis, but the mechanism of action is unclear. In the present study, an LPS-induced rat mastitis model and primary cultures of rat mammary epithelial cells were used to investigate the effect of retinoic acid on the TLR4/NF-kappaB signaling pathway. The data indicated that toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) gene expression reached its peak value earlier in retinoic acid-treated rats than in the control group, and that retinoic acid significantly decreased NF-kappaB DNA binding activity and the level of IL-1beta in the mammary gland. The animal study result was confirmed by an in vitro cell culture system trial. TLR4 protein expression and NF-kappaB DNA binding activity were significantly decreased in primary rat mammary epithelial cells pretreated with 1mumol/l retinoic acid at 1h post-LPS stimulation. IL-1beta gene expression was also significantly decreased at 2, 4 and 8h post-LPS stimulation. These findings demonstrate that direct action by retinoic acid leads to attenuation of the LPS-induced inflammatory response by suppression of the TLR4/NF-kappaB signalling system, thereby providing a novel explanation for the underlying effect proposed for retinoic acid in the protection of mammary tissue during LPS-induced acute mastitis.

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