Vitamin A as an anti-inflammatory agent

Proc Nutr Soc. 2002 Aug;61(3):397-400. doi: 10.1079/PNS2002172.


Vitamin A is necessary for normal differentiation of epithelial tissues, the visual process and reproduction, and is vital for the optimal maintenance and functioning of the innate and adaptive immune system. Vitamin A deficiency is one of the most profuse nutritional deficiencies worldwide. It is associated with increased susceptibility to infectious diseases in both man and animal models. Vitamin A also has a role as an anti-inflammatory agent. Supplementation with vitamin A has been found to be beneficial in a number of inflammatory conditions, including skin disorders such as acne vulgaris, broncho-pulmonary dysplasia and some forms of precancerous and cancer states. The present review suggests that vitamin A deficiency induces inflammation and aggravates existing inflammatory states. Supplementation with vitamin A in selected cases could ameliorate inflammation. The two main mechanisms which appear to be involved in the prevention of disease are the effects of vitamin A on the immune system and the effect on epithelial integrity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / drug therapy
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunity / physiology*
  • Infections / drug therapy*
  • Infections / immunology
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / drug therapy
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / immunology
  • Vitamin A / physiology*
  • Vitamin A / therapeutic use*
  • Vitamin A Deficiency / immunology


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Vitamin A