Retinoic acid inhibits chondrogenesis of mesenchymal cells by sustaining expression of N-cadherin and its associated proteins

J Cell Biochem. 2003 Jul 1;89(4):837-47. doi: 10.1002/jcb.10553.


Retinoic acid (RA) is a well-known regulator of chondrocyte phenotype. RA inhibits chondrogenic differentiation of mesenchymal cells and also causes loss of differentiated chondrocyte phenotype. The present study investigated the mechanisms underlying RA regulation of chondrogenesis. RA treatment in chondrifying mesenchymal cells did not affect precartilage condensation, but blocked progression from precartilage condensation to cartilage nodule formation. This inhibitory effect of RA was independent of protein kinase C and extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase, which are positive and negative regulators of cartilage nodule formation, respectively. The progression from precartilage condensation to cartilage nodule requires downregulation of N-cadherin expression. However, RA treatment caused sustained expression of N-cadherin and its associated proteins including alpha- and beta-catenin suggesting that modulation of expression of these molecules is associated with RA-induced inhibition of chondrogenesis. This hypothesis was supported by the observation that disruption of the actin cytoskeleton by cytochalasin D (CD) blocks RA-induced sustained expression of cell adhesion molecules and overcomes RA-induced inhibition of chondrogenesis. Taken together, our results suggest RA inhibits chondrogenesis by stabilizing cell-to-cell interactions at the post-precartilage condensation stage.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cadherins / biosynthesis*
  • Cartilage / drug effects
  • Cartilage / metabolism
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chick Embryo
  • Chondrogenesis / drug effects*
  • Collagen / analogs & derivatives
  • Collagen / biosynthesis
  • Cytochalasin D / pharmacology
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / drug effects
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Flavonoids / pharmacology
  • Limb Buds
  • Mesoderm / cytology
  • Mesoderm / drug effects
  • Mesoderm / metabolism*
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Protein Kinase C / metabolism
  • Proteoglycans / analysis
  • Trans-Activators / biosynthesis
  • Trans-Activators / drug effects
  • Tretinoin / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Tretinoin / pharmacology*
  • alpha Catenin
  • beta Catenin


  • Cadherins
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Flavonoids
  • Proteoglycans
  • Trans-Activators
  • alpha Catenin
  • beta Catenin
  • Cytochalasin D
  • Tretinoin
  • Collagen
  • Protein Kinase C
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • 2-(2-amino-3-methoxyphenyl)-4H-1-benzopyran-4-one