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J Nutr. 2000 May;130(5):1159-65.

Vitamin A deficiency injures lung and liver parenchyma and impairs function of rat type II pneumocytes.

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Department of Human Nutrition, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506, USA.


The purpose of this research was to determine the effects of vitamin A deficiency on liver and lung morphology and type II pneumocyte function. Weanling rats were fed a retinol-adequate (control) or -deficient diet for 6 wk. Average food intakes and body weights were not different between the vitamin A-deficient and -adequate rats. Histologic examination revealed that the lungs of vitamin A-deficient rats had less collagen in the adventitia of small caliber arteries and arterioles and in the alveolar septa, which appeared thinner than that of controls. Many areas of the lungs of the same rats were also emphysematous (increased size of air spaces distal to the terminal bronchiole, with thinning and partial or total destruction of septal wall). Content of elastin also was lower in the lung parenchyma, as well as in the small arteries and arterioles, but not in the larger ones. Peribronchial collagen was not affected by the deficient diet. Scattered inflammation was observed in most of the vitamin A-deficient rats; a mild inflammatory reaction also was seen in one of the controls. Vitamin A-deficient rats also exhibited hepatocyte vacuolization and mild inflammation in the liver, specifically in the periportal tracts. Surfactant synthesis and ornithine decarboxylase activity were significantly lower in type II pneumocytes isolated from vitamin A-deficient rats. In conclusion, our data provide evidence that vitamin A deficiency produces profound morphologic alterations in liver and lung parenchyma and impairs pneumocyte function.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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