Molecular pathways: Current role and future directions of the retinoic acid pathway in cancer prevention and treatment

Roisin M. Connolly, Nguyen K. Nguyen, Saraswati Sukumar

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

140 Scopus citations


Retinoids and their naturally metabolized and synthetic products (e.g., all-trans retinoic acid, 13-cis retinoic acid, bexarotene) induce differentiation in various cell types. Retinoids exert their actions mainly through binding to the nuclear retinoic acid receptors (a , b, g ), which are transcriptional and homeostatic regulators with functions that are often compromised early in neoplastic transformation. The retinoids have been investigated extensively for their use in cancer prevention and treatment. Success has been achieved with their use in the treatment of subtypes of leukemia harboring chromosomal translocations. Promising results have been observed in the breast cancer prevention setting, where fenretinide prevention trials have provided a strong rationale for further investigation in young women at high risk for breast cancer. Ongoing phase III randomized trials investigating retinoids in combination with chemotherapy in non-small cell lung cancer aim to definitively characterize the role of retinoids in this tumor type. The limited treatment success observed to date in the prevention and treatment of solid tumors may relate to the frequent epigenetic silencing of RARb. Robust evaluation of RARb and downstream genes may permit optimized use of retinoids in the solid tumor arena.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1651-1959
Number of pages309
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 1 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


Dive into the research topics of 'Molecular pathways: Current role and future directions of the retinoic acid pathway in cancer prevention and treatment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this