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J Lipid Res. 2013 Jul;54(7):1731-43. doi: 10.1194/jlr.R037648. Epub 2013 Apr 26.

Retinol and retinyl esters: biochemistry and physiology.

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Department of Medicine, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, NY 10032, USA.


By definition, a vitamin is a substance that must be obtained regularly from the diet. Vitamin A must be acquired from the diet, but unlike most vitamins, it can also be stored within the body in relatively high levels. For humans living in developed nations or animals living in present-day vivariums, stored vitamin A concentrations can become relatively high, reaching levels that can protect against the adverse effects of insufficient vitamin A dietary intake for six months, or even much longer. The ability to accumulate vitamin A stores lessens the need for routinely consuming vitamin A in the diet, and this provides a selective advantage to the organism. The molecular processes that underlie this selective advantage include efficient mechanisms to acquire vitamin A from the diet, efficient and overlapping mechanisms for the transport of vitamin A in the circulation, a specific mechanism allowing for vitamin A storage, and a mechanism for mobilizing vitamin A from these stores in response to tissue needs. These processes are considered in this review.


DGAT1; RBP4; Stra6; adipocyte; anhydro-retinoids; enterocyte; hepatic stellate cell; hepatocyte; lipid droplets; retinoic acid; retro-retinoids; vitamin A

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