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Retinoid receptors in bone and their role in bone remodeling

Journal article
Authors Petra Henning
H. H. Conaway
Ulf H Lerner
Published in Frontiers in Endocrinology
Volume 6
Pages 31
Publication year 2015
Published at Centre for Bone and Arthritis Research
Institute of Medicine
Institute of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine and Clinical Nutrition
Pages 31
Language en
Keywords Osteoblast, Osteoclast, Osteoporosis, Retinoids, Vitamin A
Subject categories Endocrinology and Diabetes, Endocrinology


Vitamin A (retinol) is a necessary and important constituent of the body which is provided by food intake of retinyl esters and carotenoids. Vitamin A is known best for being important for vision, but in addition to the eye, vitamin A is necessary in numerous other organs in the body, including the skeleton. Vitamin A is converted to an active compound, all-trans-retinoic acid (ATRA), which is responsible for most of its biological actions. ATRA binds to intracellular nuclear receptors called retinoic acid receptors (RARα, RARβ, RARγ). RARs and closely related retinoid X receptors (RXRα, RXRβ, RXRγ) form heterodimers which bind to DNA and function as ligand-activated transcription factors. It has been known for many years that hypervitaminosis A promotes skeleton fragility by increasing osteoclast formation and decreasing cortical bone mass. Some epidemiological studies have suggested that increased intake of vitamin A and increased serum levels of retinoids may decrease bone mineral density and increase fracture rate, but the literature on this is not conclusive. The current review summarizes how vitamin A is taken up by the intestine, metabolized, stored in the liver, and processed to ATRA. ATRA's effects on formation and activity of osteoclasts and osteoblasts are outlined, and a summary of clinical data pertaining to vitamin A and bone is presented. © 2015 Henning, Conaway and Lerner.

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