Diverse actions of retinoid receptors in cancer prevention and treatment

Published on Wednesday, 17 December 2014


Retinoids (retinol [vitamin A] and its biologically active metabolites) are essential signaling molecules that control various developmental pathways and influence the proliferation and differentiation of a variety of cell types.

The physiological actions of retinoids are mediated primarily by the retinoic acid receptors alpha, beta, and gamma (RARs) and rexinoid receptors alpha, beta, and gamma.

Although mutations in RARalpha, via the PML-RARalpha fusion proteins, result in acute promyelocytic leukemia, RARs have generally not been reported to be mutated or part of fusion proteins in carcinomas.

However, the retinoid signaling pathway is often compromised in carcinomas. Altered retinol metabolism, including low levels of lecithin:retinol acyl trasferase and retinaldehyde dehydrogenase 2, and higher levels of CYP26A1, has been observed in various tumors. RARbeta(2) expression is also reduced or is absent in many types of cancer.

A greater understanding of the molecular mechanisms by which retinoids induce cell differentiation, and in particular stem cell differentiation, is required in order to solve the issue of retinoid resistance in tumors, and thereby to utilize RA and synthetic retinoids more effectively in combination therapies for human cancer.



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