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J Am Acad Dermatol. 1994 Mar;30(3):428-34.

Repeated topical administration of all-trans-retinoic acid and plasma levels of retinoic acids in humans.

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  • 1CIRD Galderma, Valbonne, France.



Vitamin A ingestion raises plasma levels of several potentially teratogenic retinoic acids (RAs) with all-trans and 13-cis configuration, but definitive data concerning the consequences of topical administration of all-trans-RA are lacking.


The study objective was to investigate the potential for inducing systemic activity after topical administration of 0.025% all-trans-RA by measuring plasma retinoid levels.


Plasma levels of all-trans-RA, 13-cis-RA, and 4-oxo-13-cis-RA were measured in four healthy subjects before, during, and after 14 daily topical applications of all-trans-RA.


Topical administration of all-trans-RA did not significantly increase plasma levels of all-trans-RA, 13-cis-RA, and 4-oxo-13-cis-RA. Significant decreases in levels of these RAs observed during the night may reflect diurnal variations of retinoid metabolism or lowered absorption of dietary vitamin A.


Diurnal and nutritional factors influence plasma levels of endogenous retinoids to a greater extent than topical administration of all-trans-RA at doses used for acne therapy, which on the basis of these results appears unlikely to induce systemic effects.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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