Retinoid metabolism and mode of action

L. M. De Luca, W. Sasak, S. Adamo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Vitamin A and its derivatives (retinoids) are necessary for the maintenance of normal phenotypic expression. An attempt at understanding the biochemical role of vitamin A has led to the demonstration of a new pathway for retinol. In this pathway, vitamin A is phosphorylated to retinylphosphate (RP), which is then glycosylated to retinylphosphatemannose (MRP). These two derivatives have been found in a variety of tissues in vivo and in vitro and appear to be ubiquitous components of cellular membranes. The suggestion has been made that MRP may mediate specific cellular interactions by functioning as a lipid intermediate in the biosynthesis of specific glycoconjugates. A study on spontaneously-transformed mouse fibroblasts (Balb/c3T12-3 cells) has shown that retinoids are active in increasing the adhesive properties of these cells as measured in an EDTA-mediated detachment assay. Various retinoids were tested for their activity in the adhesion test, and this activity was found to correlate well with their biological activity in maintaining the expression of normal epithelial differentiation in other systems. Retinoic acid, 5,6-epoxyretinol, and 5,6-epoxyretinoic acid were the most active compounds. Retinoids without biological activity in other systems were also inactive in inducing adhesive properties of 3T12-3 cells. Among these were the synthetic derivatives of retinol, anhydroretinol, and 4,5-monoeneperhydroretinol, and the phenyl derivative of retinoic acid. β-Ionine, abscisic acid, and juvenile hormone, which are devoid of vitamin A activity in other systems, were also inactive in this system. Retinoid-induced changes in cell surface proteins were investigated but no difference in 125I-fibronectin (MW 220,000) was detectable between retinoid-treated and untreated cells. However, these cells synthesized retinylphosphatemannose and the incorporation of 2-3H-mannose into a specific glycoprotein (gp 180) was found to be enhanced specifically by retinoid treatment. Investigations of the involvement of gp 180 in adhesion are in progress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-152
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental health perspectives
VolumeVOL. 35
StatePublished - 1980
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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