Pathways of retinoid synthesis in mouse macrophages and bone marrow cells

Haixia Niu, Gayla Hadwiger, Hideji Fujiwara, John S. Welch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


In vivo pathways of natural retinoid metabolism and elimination have not been well characterized in primary myeloid cells, even though retinoids and retinoid receptors have been strongly implicated in regulating myeloid maturation. With the use of a upstream activation sequence-GFP reporter transgene and retrovirally expressed Gal4-retinoic acid receptor a in primary mouse bone marrow cells, we identified 2 distinct enzymatic pathways used by mouse myeloid cells ex vivo to synthesize retinoic acid receptor a ligands from free vitamin A metabolites (retinyl acetate, retinol, and retinal). Bulk Kit+ bone marrow progenitor cells use diethylaminobenzaldehydesensitive enzymes, whereas bone marrow-derived macrophages use diethylaminobenzaldehydeinsensitive enzymes to synthesize natural retinoic acid receptor a-activating retinoids (all-trans retinoic acid). Bone marrow-derived macrophages do not express the diethylaminobenzaldehyde-sensitive enzymes Aldh1a1, Aldh1a2, or Aldh1a3 but instead, express Aldh3b1, which we found is capable of diethylaminobenzaldehyde-insensitive synthesis of all trans-retinoic acid. However, under steady-state and stimulated conditions in vivo, diverse bone marrow cells and peritoneal macrophages showed no evidnce of intracellular retinoic acid receptor a-activating retinoids, despite expression of these enzymes and a vitamin A-sufficient diet, suggesting that the enzymatic conversion of retinal is not the rate-limiting step in the synthesis of intracellular retinoic acid receptor a-activating retinoids in myeloid bone marrow cells and that retinoic acid receptor a remains in an unliganded configuration during adult hematopoiesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)797-810
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Leukocyte Biology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2016


  • ATRA
  • Aldehyde dehydrogenase
  • Aldh3b1
  • Retinoid receptor


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