We have recently demonstrated that all-trans-retinoic acid (ATRA) and 9-cis-retinoic acid (9-cis RA) promote IL-4, IL-5 and IL-13 synthesis, while decreasing IFN-γ and TNF-α expression by activated human T cells and reduces the synthesis of IL-12p70 from accessory cells. Here, we have demonstrated that the observed effects using ATRA and 9-cis RA are shared with the clinically useful RAR ligand, 13-cis retinoic acid (13-cis RA), and the retinoic acid receptor-α (RAR-α)-selective agonist, AM580 but not with the RAR-β/γ ligand, 4-hydroxyphenylretinamide (4-HPR).
The increase in type 2 cytokine production by these retinoids correlated with the expression of the T cell activation markers, CD69 and CD38. The RAR-α-selective agonist, AM580 recapitulated all of the T cell activation and type 2 cytokine-inducing effects of ATRA and 9-cis-RA, while the RAR-α-selective antagonist, RO 41–5253, inhibited these effects.
These results strongly support a role for RAR-α engagement in the regulation of genes and proteins involved with human T cell activation and type 2 cytokine production.