Inhibitory effect of retinoic acid receptor agonists on in vitro chondrogenic differentiation

  • Yusuke Sumitani
  • Kenta UchibeEmail author
  • Kaya Yoshida
  • Yao Weng
  • Jiajie Guo
  • Haoze Yuan
  • Mika Ikegame
  • Hiroshi Kamioka
  • Hirohiko Okamura
Original Article


Retinoic acid (RA), an active metabolite of vitamin A, plays pivotal roles in a wide variety of biological processes, such as body patterning, organ development, and cell differentiation and proliferation. RA signaling is mediated by nuclear retinoic acid receptors, α, β, and γ (RARα, RARβ, and RARγ). RA is a well-known regulator of cartilage and skeleton formation and RARs are also essential for skeletal growth and hypertrophic chondrocyte-specific gene expression. These important roles of RA and RARs in chondrogenesis have been widely investigated using in vivo mouse models. However, few reports are available on the function of each subtype of RARs on in vitro chondrocyte differentiation. Here, we examined the effect of specific agonists of RARs on chondrogenic differentiation of ATDC5 and C3H10T1/2 cells. Subtype-specific RAR agonists as well as RA decreased the expressions of chondrogenic differentiation marker genes and inhibited chondrogenic differentiation, which was accompanied with morphological change to spindle-shaped cells. Among RAR agonists, RARα and RARγ agonists revealed a strong inhibitory effect on chondrogenic differentiation. RARα and RARγ agonists also hampered viability of ATDC5 cells. These observations suggested that RARα and RARγ are dominant receptors of RA signaling that negatively regulate chondrogenic differentiation.


Retinoic acid Retinoic acid receptor Chondrocyte Chondrogenesis Differentiation 



This study was supported in part by JSPS KAKENHI [Grant Numbers JP16K21186 (to K.U.) and JP19H03859 (to H.K.)].

Authors’ contribution

KU designed the experiments. YS, KU, KY, YW, JG, HY, MI, HK, and HO conducted the experiments, evaluated the results, and prepared the manuscript. All authors have read and approved the final submitted manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Japanese Association of Anatomists 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Orthodontics, Dentistry and Pharmaceutical SciencesOkayama University Graduate School of MedicineOkayamaJapan
  2. 2.Department of Oral Morphology, Dentistry and Pharmaceutical SciencesOkayama University Graduate School of MedicineOkayamaJapan
  3. 3.Department of Oral Healthcare Promotion, Institute of Biomedical SciencesTokushima University Graduate SchoolTokushimaJapan

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