Teratology of retinoids

Annu Rev Pharmacol Toxicol. 1999;39:399-430. doi: 10.1146/annurev.pharmtox.39.1.399.


Either an excess or a deficiency of vitamin A and related compounds (retinoids) causes abnormal morphological development (teratogenesis). Potential retinoid sources come from dietary intake, nutritional supplements, and some therapeutic drugs. Therefore, understanding the mechanisms of retinoid teratogenesis is important. This review first gives an overview of the principles of teratology as they apply to retinoid-induced malformations. It then describes relevant aspects of the biochemical pathway and signal transduction of retinoids. The teratogenic activity of various retinoid compounds, the role of the retinoid receptors, and important toxicokinetic parameters in teratogenesis are reviewed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abnormalities, Drug-Induced / etiology
  • Abnormalities, Drug-Induced / genetics
  • Abnormalities, Drug-Induced / pathology
  • Animals
  • Embryonic and Fetal Development / genetics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Receptors, Retinoic Acid / drug effects
  • Receptors, Retinoic Acid / genetics
  • Retinoids / metabolism
  • Retinoids / pharmacokinetics
  • Retinoids / toxicity*
  • Teratogens / metabolism
  • Teratogens / pharmacokinetics
  • Teratogens / toxicity*


  • Receptors, Retinoic Acid
  • Retinoids
  • Teratogens