Retinoic acid and development of the central nervous system

Bioessays. 1992 Jul;14(7):431-8. doi: 10.1002/bies.950140702.


We consider the evidence that RA, the vitamin A metabolite, is involved in three fundamental aspects of the development of the CNS: 1) the stimulation of axon outgrowth in particular neuronal sub-types; 2) the migration of the neural crest; and 3) the specification of rostrocaudal position in the developing CNS (forebrain, midbrain, hindbrain, spinal cord). The evidence we discuss involves RA-induction of neurites in cell cultures and explants of neural tissue; the teratological effects of RA on the embryo's nervous system; the observation that RA can be detected endogenously in the spinal cord; and the fact that the receptors and binding proteins for RA are expressed in precise domains and neuronal cell types within the nervous system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abnormalities, Drug-Induced / embryology
  • Abnormalities, Drug-Induced / etiology
  • Amphibians / embryology
  • Animals
  • Carrier Proteins / physiology
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects
  • Central Nervous System / embryology*
  • Central Nervous System / metabolism
  • Chick Embryo
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Genes, Homeobox / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Morphogenesis
  • Neural Crest / physiology
  • Neurites / ultrastructure
  • Receptors, Retinoic Acid
  • Tretinoin* / pharmacology
  • Tretinoin* / toxicity
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured / drug effects


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Receptors, Retinoic Acid
  • Tretinoin