Retinoic acid (RA), the principal active metabolite of vitamin A, is known to be involved in stress-related disorders. However, its mechanism of action in this regard remains unclear. This study reports that, in mice, endogenous cellular RA binding protein 1 (Crabp1) is highly expressed in the hypothalamus and pituitary glands. Crabp1 knockout (CKO) mice exhibit reduced anxiety-like behaviors accompanied by a lowered stress induced-corticosterone level. Furthermore, CRH/DEX tests show an increased sensitivity (hypersensitivity) of their feedback inhibition in the hypothalamic– pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis. Gene expression studies show reduced FKBP5 expression in CKO mice; this would decrease the suppression of glucocorticoid receptor (GR) signaling thereby enhancing their feedback inhibition, consistent with their dampened corticosterone level and anxiety-like behaviors upon stress induction. In AtT20, a pituitary gland adenoma cell line elevating or reducing Crabp1 level correspondingly increases or decreases FKBP5 expression, and its endogenous Crabp1 level is elevated by GR agonist dexamethasone or RA treatment. This study shows, for the first time, that Crabp1 regulates feedback inhibition of the the HPA axis by modulating FKBP5 expression. Furthermore, RA and stress can increase Crabp1 level, which would up-regulate FKBP5 thereby de-sensitizing feedback inhibition of HPA axis (by decreasing GR signaling) and increasing the risk of stress-related disorders.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Funding: This study was supported by DK54733 and DK60521, and University of Minnesota Medical School Dean’s Commitment to L.-N.W. and F31DK123999 to J.N.
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- Feedback inhibition
- HPA axis
- Retinoic acid