The role of retinoic acid in tolerance and immunity

Immunity. 2011 Jul 22;35(1):13-22. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2011.07.002.


Vitamin A elicits a broad array of immune responses through its metabolite, retinoic acid (RA). Recent evidence indicates that loss of RA leads to impaired immunity, whereas excess RA can potentially promote inflammatory disorders. In this review, we discuss recent advances showcasing the crucial contributions of RA to both immunological tolerance and the elicitation of adaptive immune responses. Further, we provide a comprehensive overview of the cell types and factors that control the production of RA and discuss how host perturbations may affect the ability of this metabolite to control tolerance and immunity or to instigate pathology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity*
  • Animals
  • Cell Movement
  • Humans
  • Immune Tolerance*
  • Immunity, Mucosal
  • Immunoglobulin A / immunology
  • Infections / immunology*
  • Signal Transduction / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology*
  • Tretinoin / immunology*
  • Vitamin A / metabolism


  • Immunoglobulin A
  • Vitamin A
  • Tretinoin