The orbit displays unique vulnerability to inflammatory conditions. The most prevalent of these conditions, thyroid eye disease (TED), occurs in up to 50% of patients with Graves’ disease (GD). Whereas the pathology of both TED and GD is driven by autoantibodies, it is unclear why symptoms manifest specifically in the orbit.
We performed retinoic acid treatment on both normal and TED patient-derived orbital fibroblasts (OFs) followed by mRNA and protein isolation, quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR), enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, RNA sequencing, and Western blot analyses.
Both normal and TED patient-derived OFs display robust induction of monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 (MCP-1) upon retinoid treatment; TED OFs secrete significantly more MCP-1 than normal OFs. In addition, pretreatment of OFs with thiophenecarboxamide (TPCA-1) inhibits retinoid-induced MCP-1 induction, suggesting an NF-κB (nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells)-dependent mechanism. We also found that treatment with cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) mitigates MCP-1 induction, likely because of competition between retinoic acid receptors (RARs) and vitamin D receptors (VDR) for their common binding partner retinoid nuclear receptors (RXRs).
Retinoids that naturally accumulate in orbital adipose tissue can act on orbital fibroblasts to induce the expression of inflammation-associated genes. These data suggest a potential role for retinoids in sensitizing the orbit to inflammation.