Carotenoid supplementation and retinoic acid in immunoglobulin A regulation of the gut microbiota dysbiosis

Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2018 Apr;243(7):613-620. doi: 10.1177/1535370218763760. Epub 2018 Mar 13.


Dysbiosis, a broad spectrum of imbalance of the gut microbiota, may progress to microbiota dysfunction. Dysbiosis is linked to some human diseases, such as inflammation-related disorders and metabolic syndromes. However, the underlying mechanisms of the pathogenesis of dysbiosis remain elusive. Recent findings suggest that the microbiome and gut immune responses, like immunoglobulin A production, play critical roles in the gut homeostasis and function, and the progression of dysbiosis. In the past two decades, much progress has been made in better understanding of production of immunoglobulin A and its association with commensal microbiota. The present minireview summarizes the recent findings in the gut microbiota dysbiosis and dysfunction of immunoglobulin A induced by the imbalance of pathogenic bacteria and commensal microbiota. We also propose the potentials of dietary carotenoids, such as β-carotene and astaxanthin, in the improvement of the gut immune system maturation and immunoglobulin A production, and the consequent promotion of the gut health. Impact statement The concept of carotenoid metabolism in the gut health has not been well established in the literature. Here, we review and discuss the roles of retinoic acid and carotenoids, including pro-vitamin A carotenoids and xanthophylls in the maturation of the gut immune system and IgA production. This is the first review article about the carotenoid supplements and the metabolites in the regulation of the gut microbiome. We hope this review would provide a new direction for the management of the gut microbiota dysbiosis by application of bioactive carotenoids and the metabolites.

Keywords: Astaxanthin; beta-carotene oxygenase 2; gut microbiome; immune system; vitamin A.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carotenoids / pharmacology*
  • Dysbiosis / drug therapy*
  • Dysbiosis / immunology
  • Dysbiosis / microbiology
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / drug effects*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immune System / drug effects*
  • Immune System / immunology
  • Immunoglobulin A / immunology*
  • Inflammation / drug therapy
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Inflammation / microbiology
  • Microbiota / drug effects*
  • Microbiota / immunology
  • Tretinoin / pharmacology*


  • Immunoglobulin A
  • Carotenoids
  • Tretinoin