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J Clin Invest. 1987 Jan;79(1):163-9.

Effects of vitamin A deficiency and repletion on rat insulin secretion in vivo and in vitro from isolated islets.


We studied the effects of vitamin A deficiency and repletion on rat insulin release and islet cellular retinol binding protein (CRBP) and cellular retinoic acid binding protein (CRABP). Biphasic insulin release from vitamin A-deficient perifused islets was markedly impaired. Release remained impaired with retinoic acid (RA) repletion, 2 micrograms/g diet compared to release from islets of rats repleted with retinol in the form of retinyl palmitate, 4 micrograms/g diet. Release normalized with RA, 8 micrograms/g diet. Vitamin A deficiency did not affect islet insulin content, cell size, number or structure. In vivo, vitamin A-deficient rats had impaired glucose-induced acute insulin release and glucose intolerance, which improved with repletion. Normal islets had greater concentrations of CRBP than CRABP; vitamin A deficiency reduced CRBP but not CRABP levels. We conclude retinol is required for normal insulin secretion. Retinoic acid may substitute for retinol in this function.

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