Vitamin A deficiency induces fluid hyposecretion from the airway submucosal glands of mice

J Nutr. 2012 Apr;142(4):739-43. doi: 10.3945/jn.111.154047. Epub 2012 Mar 7.


Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) alters the phenotype of airway epithelium and attenuates the epithelial defense system, and many studies have reported the association of VAD with respiratory disease. In this study, we investigated changes in submucosal glands (SMG) in a mouse model of VAD. C57BL/6 mice were fed a vitamin A-devoid diet and the others were fed a control diet (1.2 mg retinol/kg). The areas of serous and mucous cells of SMG were measured in 4-, 8-, and 20-wk-old male mice. The volume and lysozyme concentration of glandular secretions were also measured. The 2 groups did not differ in body weight or general morbidity at 3-10 wk of age, although serum retinol concentrations were greater in the control mice than in the VAD mice after 4 wk. Upon histological evaluation, we found that the areal ratio of serous cells:total SMG cells was significantly lower after 8 wk in the VAD mice compared with the control mice, although the total area of SMG did not differ between groups throughout the 20-wk experiment. The number of secretory bubbles did not differ between the groups, but total secretion volume was reduced by 35% in 8-wk-old VAD mice compared with controls. Furthermore, the concentration of lysozyme in secretions from 8-wk-old VAD mice was also less than in controls, compounding the effect of diminished secretion volume. In this study, we found serous cell hypotrophy/hypoplasia and dysfunction in VAD mice, which may contribute to the susceptibility to airway infection linked to VAD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bodily Secretions / enzymology
  • Bodily Secretions / immunology
  • Bodily Secretions / metabolism
  • Cell Count
  • Chemokine CXCL2 / genetics
  • Chemokine CXCL2 / metabolism
  • Disease Resistance
  • Down-Regulation*
  • ErbB Receptors / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mucus / enzymology
  • Mucus / immunology
  • Mucus / metabolism*
  • Muramidase / metabolism
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational
  • Pseudomonas Infections / immunology
  • Pseudomonas Infections / pathology
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / growth & development
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / immunology
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Respiratory Mucosa / immunology
  • Respiratory Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Respiratory Mucosa / pathology
  • Respiratory Mucosa / physiopathology
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / immunology
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / pathology
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Up-Regulation
  • Vitamin A Deficiency / immunology
  • Vitamin A Deficiency / metabolism
  • Vitamin A Deficiency / pathology
  • Vitamin A Deficiency / physiopathology*


  • Chemokine CXCL2
  • Cxcl2 protein, mouse
  • RNA, Messenger
  • EGFR protein, mouse
  • ErbB Receptors
  • Muramidase