Zinc-vitamin A interaction in pregnant and fetal rats: supplemental vitamin A does not prevent zinc-deficiency-induced teratogenesis

J Nutr. 1986 Sep;116(9):1765-71. doi: 10.1093/jn/116.9.1765.


The influence of a higher-than-normal intake of vitamin A on the detrimental effects of zinc deficiency on vitamin A metabolism was investigated in pregnant Sprague-Dawley rats. At mating, rats were fed diets containing 100 (control), 4.5, or 0.5 micrograms/g zinc combined with 4 (control) or 8 micrograms retinyl acetate/g. Low intake of zinc, but not of vitamin A, caused food intake, total body weight change, fetal weight and placental weight to be low. Incidence of teratogenic effects was more pronounced in low zinc groups than in controls. Concentrations of vitamin A in maternal plasma and liver were affected by the amount of zinc in the diet. Dietary vitamin A, however, did not affect either of these parameters. Maternal plasma zinc concentration was affected only by low dietary zinc, whereas plasma copper and iron were unaffected by the dietary treatments. Maternal liver iron was higher in zinc-deficient rats than in controls; however, maternal liver zinc and copper concentrations were not altered by dietary treatments. No significant differences in vitamin A concentration of fetal liver, fetal plasma, or placenta were seen among the groups. Fetuses from zinc-deficient dams had significantly lower levels of liver vitamin A and liver zinc than did controls. Fetal liver iron was higher in zinc-deficient fetuses than in controls, whereas fetal liver copper was not affected by dietary treatment. These data suggest that supplemental dietary vitamin A does not ameliorate the effect of zinc deficiency on vitamin A metabolism during pregnancy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Congenital Abnormalities / etiology*
  • Diet
  • Female
  • Fetus / metabolism
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy, Animal / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Vitamin A / metabolism*
  • Vitamin A / therapeutic use
  • Zinc / deficiency*
  • Zinc / metabolism


  • Vitamin A
  • Zinc