Retinoid X receptor (RXR) is a nuclear receptor that heterodimerizes with several nuclear receptors, integrating ligand-mediated signals across the heterodimers. Synthetic RXR agonists have been developed to cure certain inflammatory diseases, including inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs). However, pre-existing RXR agonists, which are lipophilic and readily absorbed in the upper intestine, cause considerable adverse effects such as hepatomegaly, hyperlipidemia, and hypothyroidism. To minimize these adverse effects, we have developed an RXR agonist, NEt-3IB, which has lipophilic and thus poorly absorptive properties. In this study, we evaluated the effects of NEt-3IB in an experimental murine colitis model induced through the adoptive transfer of CD45RBhighCD4+ T cells. Pharmacokinetic studies demonstrated that the major portion of NEt-3IB was successfully delivered to the large intestine after oral administration. Notably, NEt-3IB treatment suppressed the development of T cell-mediated chronic colitis, as indicated by improvement of wasting symptoms, inflammatory infiltration, and mucosal hyperplasia. The protective effect of NEt-3IB was mediated by the suppression of IFN-γ-producing Th1 cell expansion in the colon. In conclusion, NEt-3IB, a large intestine-directed RXR agonist, is a promising drug candidate for IBDs.
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