Chapter

Nutrient Regulation during Pregnancy, Lactation, and Infant Growth

Volume 352 of the series Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology pp 187-200

The Function of Vitamin A in Cellular Growth and Differentiation, and Its Roles during Pregnancy and Lactation

  • A. Catharine RossAffiliated withDivision of Nutrition, Department of Biochemistry, Medical College of Pennsylvania
  • , Elizabeth M. GardnerAffiliated withDivision of Nutrition, Department of Biochemistry, Medical College of Pennsylvania

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access

Abstract

In 1913, vitamin A was first described as a nutritional factor essential for growth and life itself, but another 18 years passed before the chemical nature of vitamin A was elucidated (see Ross, 1991). The term vitamin A is now used to comprise retinol and the retinol precursor, β-carotene, as well as the natural metabolites of retinol which retain growth- and health-promoting activities. A principal active metabolite of vitamin A is retinoic acid, formed in cells through the regulated oxidation of retinol. The term “retinoids” was coined to include both the natural forms of vitamin A and an expanding array of synthetic analogs which bear a structural relationship to retinol or retinoic acid and which generally share some but not all of their biological properties (Sporn and Roberts, 1985; De Luca, 1991; Frickel, 1984).