Yuka Kobayashi , Kazuhiro Tokuda , Chiemi Yamashiro , Fumiaki Higashijima , Takuya Yoshimoto , Manami Ota , Tadahiko Ogata , Atsushige Ashimori , Makoto Hatano , Masaaki Kobayashi , Sho-Hei Uchi , Makiko Wakuta , Kazuhiro Kimura
4 June 2021
Epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) in retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells plays a key role in proliferative retinal diseases such as age-related macular degeneration by contributing to subretinal fibrosis. To investigate the potential role of retinoic acid receptor-α (RAR-α) signaling in this process, we have now examined the effects of the RAR-α agonist Am580 on EMT induced by transforming growth factor-β2 (TGF-β2) in primary mouse RPE cells cultured in a three-dimensional type I collagen gel as well as on subretinal fibrosis in a mouse model. We found that Am580 inhibited TGF-β2-induced collagen gel contraction mediated by RPE cells. It also attenuated the TGF-β2-induced expression of the mesenchymal markers α-smooth muscle actin, fibronectin, and collagen type I; production of pro-matrix metalloproteinase 2 and interleukin-6; expression of the focal adhesion protein paxillin; and phosphorylation of SMAD2 in the cultured RPE cells. Finally, immunofluorescence analysis showed that Am580 suppressed both the TGF-β2-induced translocation of myocardin-related transcription factor-A (MRTF-A) from the cytoplasm to the nucleus of cultured RPE cells as well as subretinal fibrosis triggered by laser-induced photocoagulation in a mouse model. Our observations thus suggest that RAR-α signaling inhibits EMT in RPE cells and might attenuate the development of fibrosis associated with proliferative retinal diseases.