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Concept: Retinol


Vitamin A or retinol is arguably the most multifunctional vitamin in the human body as it is essential from embryogenesis to adulthood. The pleiotropic effects of vitamin A are exerted mainly by one active metabolite, all-trans retinoic acid (atRA), which regulates the expression of a battery of target genes through several families of nuclear receptors (RARs, RXRs and PPARβ/δ), polymorphic retinoic acid (RA) response elements and multiple coregulators. It also involves extra nuclear and non-transcriptional effects such as the activation of kinase cascades, which are integrated in the nucleus via the phosphorylation of several actors of RA signaling. However, vitamin A itself proved recently to be active and RARs to be present in the cytosol to regulate translation and cell plasticity. All these new concepts expand the scope of the biologic functions of vitamin A and RA.

Concepts: Cell nucleus, Cell, Signal transduction, Retinol, Vitamin A, Retinoic acid, Tretinoin, Retinoid


The objectives of the present study were to investigate the effects of acute exposure to PBDEs on retinoid signaling in fish. Zebrafish embryos (2h post-fertilization, hpf) were exposed to DE-71 (0, 31.0, 68.7, and 227.6μg/L) until 120hpf. Retinoid profiles showed the content of retinal and retinoic acid was reduced significantly. While a significant up-regulation was observed in the transcription of retinal dehydrogenase (raldh2), the transcription of retinol binding protein (rbp1a), retinol dehydrogenase (rdh1), cellular retinoic acid binding protein (crabp1a and crabp2a) and retinoic acid receptor subunit (raraa) were down-regulated significantly, indicating disruption of retinoid signaling. However, the transcriptions of five opsin genes (zfrho, zfuv, zfred, zfblue, and zfgr1) were up-regulated. Furthermore, whole mount immunostaining and western blotting demonstrated increased rhodopsin protein expression in the exposure groups. Overall, the results indicated that acute exposure to PBDEs could disturb retinoid signaling and may impact on eye development of zebrafish larvae.

Concepts: Protein, Gene, Molecular biology, Retinol, Vitamin A, Retinal, Retinoic acid receptor, Retinoic acid


OBJECTIVE: Calcific aortic valve disease (CAVD) is a major public health problem with no effective treatment available other than surgery. We previously showed that mature heart valves calcify in response to retinoic acid (RA) treatment through downregulation of the SRY transcription factor Sox9. In this study, we investigated the effects of excess vitamin A and its metabolite RA on heart valve structure and function in vivo and examined the molecular mechanisms of RA signaling during the calcification process in vitro. METHODS AND RESULTS: Using a combination of approaches, we defined calcific aortic valve disease pathogenesis in mice fed 200 IU/g and 20 IU/g of retinyl palmitate for 12 months at molecular, cellular, and functional levels. We show that mice fed excess vitamin A develop aortic valve stenosis and leaflet calcification associated with increased expression of osteogenic genes and decreased expression of cartilaginous markers. Using a pharmacological approach, we show that RA-mediated Sox9 repression and calcification is regulated by classical RA signaling and requires both RA and retinoid X receptors. CONCLUSIONS: Our studies demonstrate that excess vitamin A dietary intake promotes heart valve calcification in vivo. Therefore suggesting that hypervitaminosis A could serve as a new risk factor of calcific aortic valve disease in the human population.

Concepts: Gene, In vitro, Aortic valve, Retinol, Vitamin A, Valvular heart disease, Valves, Aortic valve stenosis


All-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) is an important therapeutic agent for prevention of the renal diseases. Transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1)/Smad3 signaling pathway is a key signaling pathway which takes part in the progression of renal interstitial fibrosis (RIF). This investigation was performed to study the effect of ATRA in RIF rats and its effect on the TGF-β1/Smad3 signaling pathway. Sixty Wistar male rats were divided into three groups at random: sham operation group (SHO), model group subjected to unilateral ureteral obstruction (GU), model group treated with ATRA (GA), n = 20, respectively. RIF index, protein expression of TGF-β1, collagen-IV (Col-IV) and fibronectin (FN) in renal interstitium, and mRNA and protein expressions of Smad3 in renal tissue were detected at 14-day and 28-day after surgery. The RIF index was markedly elevated in group GU than in SHO group (p < 0.01), and the RIF index of GA group was alleviated when compared with that in GU group (p < 0.01). Compared with in group SHO, the mRNA/protein expression of Smad3 in renal tissue was significantly increased in group GU (p < 0.01). However, the mRNA and protein expressions of Smad3 in renal tissue in GA group were not markedly alleviated by ATRA treatment when compared with those in GU (each p > 0.05). Protein expressions of TGF-β1, Col-IV, and FN in GU group were markedly increased than those in SHO group (each p < 0.01), and their expressions in GA group were markedly down-regulated by ATRA treatment than those of GU group (all p < 0.01). The protein expression of Smad3 was positively correlated with RIF index, protein expression of TGF-β1, Col-IV or FN (each p < 0.01). In conclusion, ATRA treatment can alleviate the RIF progression in UUO rats. However, ATRA cannot affect the signaling pathway of TGF-β1/Smad3 in the progression of RIF.

Concepts: Protein, Gene expression, Messenger RNA, Retinol, Retinoic acid, Tretinoin


Oxidation of retinol via retinaldehyde results in the formation of the essential morphogen all-trans-retinoic acid (ATRA). Previous studies have identified critical roles in the regulation of embryonic ATRA levels for retinol, retinaldehyde, and ATRA-oxidizing enzymes; however, the contribution of retinaldehyde reductases to ATRA metabolism is not completely understood. Herein, we investigate the role of the retinaldehyde reductase Dhrs3 in embryonic retinoid metabolism using a Dhrs3-deficient mouse. Lack of DHRS3 leads to a 40% increase in the levels of ATRA and a 60% and 55% decrease in the levels of retinol and retinyl esters, respectively, in Dhrs3(-/-) embryos compared to wild-type littermates. Furthermore, accumulation of excess ATRA is accompanied by a compensatory 30-50% reduction in the expression of ATRA synthetic genes and a 120% increase in the expression of the ATRA catabolic enzyme Cyp26a1 in Dhrs3(-/-) embryos vs. controls. Excess ATRA also leads to alterations (40-80%) in the expression of several developmentally important ATRA target genes. Consequently, Dhrs3(-/-) embryos die late in gestation and display defects in cardiac outflow tract formation, atrial and ventricular septation, skeletal development, and palatogenesis. These data demonstrate that the reduction of retinaldehyde by DHRS3 is critical for preventing formation of excess ATRA during embryonic development.-Billings, S. E., Pierzchalski, K., Butler Tjaden, N. E., Pang, X.-Y., Trainor, P. A., Kane, M. A., Moise, A. R. The retinaldehyde reductase DHRS3 is essential for preventing the formation of excess retinoic acid during embryonic development.

Concepts: Gene, Amino acid, Enzyme, Retinol, Retinal, Retinoic acid, Tretinoin, Retinoid


Alitretinoin (9-cis-retinoic acid) is a synthetic vitamin A derivative with immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory activity recently licensed as a treatment for refractory chronic hand eczema(1) . Here, we report the successful use of oral alitretinoin in two women of childbearing age with Darier’s disease (DD). DD (OMIM 124200) is an autosomal dominant disorder of keratinisation characterised by multiple discrete or confluent warty papules and plaques in seborrhoeic areas, palmoplantar pits and distinctive nail dystrophy(2) of teenage or adult onset.

Concepts: Pregnancy, Childbirth, Energy, Folic acid, Multiple birth, Retinol, Vitamin A


The initial results of the APL0406 trial showed that the combination of all-trans-retinoic acid (ATRA) and arsenic trioxide (ATO) is at least not inferior to standard ATRA and chemotherapy (CHT) in first-line therapy of low- or intermediate-risk acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL). We herein report the final analysis on the complete series of patients enrolled onto this trial.

Concepts: Leukemia, Mathematical analysis, Acute promyelocytic leukemia, Retinol, Arsenic trioxide, Retinoic acid, Tretinoin, Retinoic acid syndrome


Vitamin A homeostasis is critical to normal cellular function. Retinol-binding protein (RBP) is the sole specific carrier in the bloodstream for hydrophobic retinol, the main form in which vitamin A is transported. The integral membrane receptor STRA6 mediates cellular uptake of vitamin A by recognizing RBP-retinol to trigger release and internalization of retinol. We present the structure of zebrafish STRA6 determined to 3.9-angstrom resolution by single-particle cryo-electron microscopy. STRA6 has one intramembrane and nine transmembrane helices in an intricate dimeric assembly. Unexpectedly, calmodulin is bound tightly to STRA6 in a noncanonical arrangement. Residues involved with RBP binding map to an archlike structure that covers a deep lipophilic cleft. This cleft is open to the membrane, suggesting a possible mode for internalization of retinol through direct diffusion into the lipid bilayer.

Concepts: Protein, Metabolism, Lipid, Membrane protein, Lipid bilayer, Retinol, Vitamin A, Retinyl palmitate


Whereas conventional white cassava roots are devoid of provitamin A, biofortified yellow varieties are naturally rich in β-carotene, the primary provitamin A carotenoid.

Concepts: Randomized controlled trial, United Kingdom, Vitamins, Cassava, Retinol, Vitamin A, Cryptoxanthin, Ionone


Some vertebrate species have evolved means of extending their visual sensitivity beyond the range of human vision. One mechanism of enhancing sensitivity to long-wavelength light is to replace the 11-cis retinal chromophore in photopigments with 11-cis 3,4-didehydroretinal. Despite over a century of research on this topic, the enzymatic basis of this perceptual switch remains unknown. Here, we show that a cytochrome P450 family member, Cyp27c1, mediates this switch by converting vitamin A1 (the precursor of 11-cis retinal) into vitamin A2 (the precursor of 11-cis 3,4-didehydroretinal). Knockout of cyp27c1 in zebrafish abrogates production of vitamin A2, eliminating the animal’s ability to red-shift its photoreceptor spectral sensitivity and reducing its ability to see and respond to near-infrared light. Thus, the expression of a single enzyme mediates dynamic spectral tuning of the entire visual system by controlling the balance of vitamin A1 and A2 in the eye.

Concepts: Signal transduction, Metabolism, Cytochrome P450, Retina, Photoreceptor cell, Retinol, Retinal