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J Nutrigenet Nutrigenomics. 2015;8(4-6):164-73. doi: 10.1159/000442090. Epub 2015 Dec 15.

Dietary Vitamin A and Visceral Adiposity: A Modulating Role of the Retinol-Binding Protein 4 Gene.

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Departments of Physiology and Nutritional Sciences, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ont., Canada.



Visceral fat (VF) compared with subcutaneous fat (SF) is more closely associated with cardiometabolic disease. Dietary vitamin A (retinol) may reduce adiposity through its effects on adipogenesis differentially in VF and SF, and this effect may be modulated by retinol-binding protein-4 (RBP4). We investigated whether intake of vitamin A is associated with either VF or SF, and whether this association is moderated by the RBP4 genotype (rs10882272, C/T) previously associated with circulating retinol levels.


This was a cross-sectional association study in a sample of 947 adolescents from a French-Canadian founder population. VF and SF were quantified with magnetic resonance imaging, and vitamin A intake was assessed with a 24-hour food recall. All participants were genotyped to determine their RBP4 variant.


Dietary intake of vitamin A was negatively associated with VF; however, it was not associated with SF. These relationships were independent of age, sex, height and energy intake, and were modulated by the RBP4 variant. The T allele promoted adiposity-reducing effects of vitamin A in VF and adiposity-enhancing effects in SF, while the C allele had adiposity-reducing effects in both VF and SF.


Dietary vitamin A may reduce abdominal adiposity and promote visceral to subcutaneous body fat redistribution during adolescence in an RBP4-dependent manner. These observational findings provide the basis for future interventional studies, which together with genetic information may inject further causality in the association between dietary vitamin A intake and abdominal adiposity.

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