Induction of cellular and molecular immunomodulatory pathways by vitamin A and flavonoids

Expert Opin Biol Ther. 2015;15(10):1411-28. doi: 10.1517/14712598.2015.1066331. Epub 2015 Jul 17.


Introduction: A detailed study of reports on the immunomodulatory properties of vitamin A and select flavonoids may pave the way for using these natural compounds or compounds with similar structures in novel drug and vaccine designs against infectious and autoimmune diseases and cancers.

Areas covered: Intracellular transduction pathways, cellular differentiation and functional immunomodulatory responses have been reviewed. The reported studies encompass in vitro, in vivo preclinical and clinical studies that address the role of vitamin A and select flavonoids in induction of innate and adaptive B- and T-cell responses, including TH1, TH2 and regulatory T cells (Treg).

Expert opinion: While the immunomodulatory role of vitamin A, and related compounds, is well-established in many preclinical studies, its role in humans has begun to gain wider acceptance. In contrast, the role of flavonoids is mostly controversial in clinical trials, due to the diversity of the various classes of these compounds, and possibly due to the purity and the selected doses of the compounds. However, current preclinical and clinical studies warrant further detailed studies of these promising immunomodulatory compounds.

Keywords: antiviral; catechin; flavonoid; immunomodulation; vitamin A.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autoimmune Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / pathology
  • Bacteria / drug effects
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Flavonoids / pharmacology
  • Flavonoids / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Cellular / drug effects
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology
  • Viruses / drug effects
  • Vitamin A / pharmacology
  • Vitamin A / therapeutic use*


  • Flavonoids
  • Vitamin A