The role of retinaldehyde and PPARgamma signaling in systemic lupus erythematosus
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease with chronic inflammation affecting multiple organ systems, as well as accelerated atherosclerosis as a major complication. Prior studies by our lab have shown beneficial effects of PPARgamma agonists towards preventing SLE in two different mouse models: the well-established lupus mouse model, MRL.lpr, and the gld.apoE^-/- model of accelerated lupus and atherosclerosis. Retinaldehyde is a retinoic acid precursor that has recently been shown to inhibit PPARgamma signaling in adipose tissue. We proposed that abnormal accumulation of retinaldehyde in lupus promotes autoimmunity by inhibition of PPARgamma signaling. We measured the serum retinaldehyde levels in both lupus mouse models using reversed-phase high-performance liquid chromatography. We also examined the mRNA expressions of genes involved in retinaldehyde metabolism and PPARgamma signaling in white adipose tissues using real-time quantitative PCR. We observed a higher level of circulating retinaldehyde in the MRL.lpr mouse model on a chow diet. The circulating retinaldehyde levels in both .gld.apoE^-/- and C57 increased when maintained on a high-cholesterol Western diet. Within visceral and subcuntaneous adipose tissue, we saw several changes to expression of the genes responsible for retinaldehyde synthesis and catabolism, however further study is required to definitively assess the role of these genes. Importantly, the expression levels of genes involved in PPARgamma signaling decreased in the subcutaneous fat of gld.apoE^-/- mice on a Western diet. Our data suggest that retinaldehyde may play a role in SLE pathogenesis and could be a potential therapeutic target for SLE.