Retinoic acid inhibits HIV-1-induced podocyte proliferation through the cAMP pathway

John Cijiang He, Ting Chi Lu, Margaret Fleet, Masaaki Sunamoto, Mohammad Husain, Wei Fang, Susana Neves, Yibang Chen, Stuart Shankland, Ravi Iyengar, Paul E. Klotman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


HIV-associated nephropathy is characterized by renal podocyte proliferation and dedifferentiation. This study found that all-trans retinoic acid (atRA) reverses the effects of HIV-1 infection in podocytes. Treatment with atRA reduced cell proliferation rate by causing G1 arrest and restored the expression of the differentiation markers (synaptopodin, nephrin, podocin, and WT-1) in HIV-1-infected podocytes. It is interesting that both atRA and 9-cis RA increased intracellular cAMP levels in podocytes. Podocytes expressed most isoforms of retinoic acid receptors (RAR) and retinoid X receptors (RXR) with the exception of RXRγ. RARα antagonists blocked atRA-induced cAMP production and its antiproliferative and prodifferentiation effects on podocytes, suggesting that RARα is required. For determination of the effect of increased intracellular cAMP on HIV-infected podocytes, cells were stimulated with either forskolin or 8-bromo-cAMP. Both compounds inhibited cell proliferation significantly and restored synaptopodin expression in HIV-infected podocytes. The effects of atRA were abolished by Rp-cAMP, an inhibitor of the cAMP/protein kinase A pathway and were enhanced by rolipram, an inhibitor of phosphodiesterase 4, suggesting that the antiproliferative and prodifferentiation effects of atRA on HIV-infected podocytes are cAMP dependent. Furthermore, both atRA and forskolin suppressed HIV-induced mitogen-activated protein kinase 1 and 2 and Stat3 phosphorylation. In vivo, atRA reduced proteinuria, cell proliferation, and glomerulosclerosis in HIV-1-transgenic mice. These findings suggest that atRA reverses the abnormal phenotype in HIV-1-infected podocytes by stimulating RARα-mediated intracellular cAMP production. These results demonstrate the mechanism by which atRA reverses the proliferation of podocytes that is induced by HIV-1.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-102
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American Society of Nephrology : JASN
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2007


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