Vitamin A and its derivatives (retinoids) are critically important in the development and maintenance of multiple epithelial tissues, including skin, hair, and sebaceous glands, as shown by the detrimental effects of either vitamin A deficiency or toxicity. Thus, precise levels of retinoic acid (RA, active metabolite) are needed. These precise levels of RA are achieved by regulating several steps in the conversion of dietary vitamin A (retinol) to RA and RA catabolism. This review discusses the localization of RA synthesis to specific sites within the hair follicle and sebaceous gland, including their stem cells, during both homeostasis and disease states. It also discusses what is known about the specific roles of RA within the hair follicle and sebaceous gland. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Retinoid and Lipid Metabolism.
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