The influence of vitamin A supplementation on Foxp3 and TGF-β gene expression in atherosclerotic patients

J Nutrigenet Nutrigenomics. 2012;5(6):314-26. doi: 10.1159/000341916. Epub 2013 Jan 26.


The aim of this study was to investigate the role of vitamin A in Foxp3 and TGF-β gene expression in atherosclerotic patients. Patients and healthy controls in the vitamin A group received 25,000 IU retinyl palmitate per day, while patients in the placebo group took one capsule of placebo per day for 4 months. Gene expressions of regulatory T cells were studied by real-time PCR. The levels of Foxp3 expression in phytohemagglutinin-activated cells were much higher in the patients who received vitamin A than in placebo-treated patients and healthy controls, while Foxp3 gene expression in oxidized low-density lipoprotein-activated cells showed no significant differences between all groups (p=0.357). A significant difference in the expression level of TGF-β gene in fresh cells was observed between patients and healthy controls (p=0.009). TGF-β gene expression in oxidized low-density lipoprotein-activated cells increased in all groups; however, these changes were not statistically significant (p=0.65); the changes obtained were 2.8-, 2.2- and 3.9-fold in the vitamin A, placebo, and control groups, respectively. Based on suppressing actions of regulatory T cells on effector T cells and findings that show that vitamin A has the effect of increasing expression of regulatory T cells, it can be concluded that supplementation with vitamin A in atherosclerotic patients may be effective in slowing disease progression.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Atherosclerosis / drug therapy
  • Atherosclerosis / genetics*
  • Atherosclerosis / immunology
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Diterpenes
  • Female
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Gene Expression / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Lymphocyte Activation / drug effects
  • Lymphocyte Activation / genetics
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Placebos
  • Retinyl Esters
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / drug effects
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / metabolism
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / genetics*
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / metabolism
  • Vitamin A / administration & dosage
  • Vitamin A / analogs & derivatives*


  • Diterpenes
  • FOXP3 protein, human
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors
  • Placebos
  • Retinyl Esters
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • Vitamin A
  • retinol palmitate