Retinoids are required for maintaining many essential physiological processes in the body, including normal growth and development, normal vision, a healthy immune system, normal reproduction, and healthy skin and barrier functions. In excess of 500 genes are thought to be regulated by retinoic acid. 11-cis-retinal serves as the visual chromophore in vision. The body must acquire retinoid from the diet in order to maintain these essential physiological processes. Retinoid metabolism is complex and involves many different retinoid forms, including retinyl esters, retinol, retinal, retinoic acid and oxidized and conjugated metabolites of both retinol and retinoic acid. In addition, retinoid metabolism involves many carrier proteins and enzymes that are specific to retinoid metabolism, as well as other proteins which may be involved in mediating also triglyceride and/or cholesterol metabolism. This review will focus on recent advances for understanding retinoid metabolism that have taken place in the last ten to fifteen years.
Keywords: adipocyte; carotenoid; chylomicron; hepatic stellate cell; hepatocyte; lecithin:retinol acyltransferase (LRAT); retinol-binding protein (RBP).