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Keywords:

  • vitamin A;
  • metabolic disease;
  • glucose;
  • pancreas;
  • adipose tissue

Abstract

Retinoids (vitamin A and its analogs) are highly potent regulators of cell differentiation, cell proliferation, and apoptosis. Because of these activities, retinoids have been most extensively studied in the contexts of embryonic development and of proliferative diseases, especially cancer and skin disease. Recently, there has been considerable new research interest focused on gaining understanding of the roles that retinoids and/or retinoid-related proteins may have in the development of metabolic diseases, primarily obesity, diabetes, and dyslipidemia. This review will summarize recent advances that have been made in these areas, focusing on the role of retinoids in modulating adipogenesis, the roles of retinoids and retinoid-related proteins as signaling molecules linking obesity with the development of type II diabetes, the roles of retinoids in pancreatic β-cell biology/insulin secretion, and the actions of retinoids in hepatic steatosis. © 2012 BioFactors, 2013