The Role of Vitamin A in Wound Healing

Nutr Clin Pract. 2019 Oct;34(5):695-700. doi: 10.1002/ncp.10376. Epub 2019 Aug 7.


Vitamin A is an essential micronutrient that comes in multiple forms, including retinols, retinals, and retinoic acids. Dietary vitamin A is absorbed as retinol from preformed retinoids or as pro-vitamin A carotenoids that are converted into retinol in the enterocyte. These are then delivered to the liver for storage via chylomicrons and later released into the circulation and to its biologically active tissues bound to retinol-binding protein. Vitamin A is a crucial component of many important and diverse biological functions, including reproduction, embryological development, cellular differentiation, growth, immunity, and vision. Vitamin A functions mostly through nuclear retinoic acid receptors, retinoid X receptors, and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors. Retinoids regulate the growth and differentiation of many cell types within skin, and its deficiency leads to abnormal epithelial keratinization. In wounded tissue, vitamin A stimulates epidermal turnover, increases the rate of re-epithelialization, and restores epithelial structure. Retinoids have the unique ability to reverse the inhibitory effects of anti-inflammatory steroids on wound healing. In addition to its role in the inflammatory phase of wound healing, retinoic acid has been demonstrated to enhance production of extracellular matrix components such as collagen type I and fibronectin, increase proliferation of keratinocytes and fibroblasts, and decrease levels of degrading matrix metalloproteinases.

Keywords: inflammation; retinoids; skin; vitamin A; wound healing.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Receptors, Retinoic Acid / metabolism
  • Retinoids / pharmacology*
  • Retinol-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Vitamin A / pharmacology*
  • Wound Healing / drug effects*


  • Receptors, Retinoic Acid
  • Retinoids
  • Retinol-Binding Proteins
  • Vitamin A