13-Cis-retinoic acid: pharmacology, toxicology, and clinical applications for the prevention and treatment of human cancer

Crit Rev Oncol Hematol. 1985;3(1):75-101. doi: 10.1016/s1040-8428(85)80040-8.


Retinoids, particularly 13-cis-retinoic acid, have shown great promise against a number of benign, but serious dermatological conditions. In animal models, 13-cis-retinoic acid functions is a potent antipromoter whether a cancer has been initiated by chemical, physical, or viral agents. Additionally, substantial antiproliferative activity of this compound has been demonstrated in vitro in many culture systems. Clinical activity noted against several types of skin malignancies has led to several investigations to determine the anticancer activity of 13-cis-retinoic acid. Response of a variety of preneoplastic and neoplastic lesions of epithelial histology has been demonstrated. The toxicity of 13-cis-retinoic acid largely reflects its tissue distribution with skin and subcutaneous side-effects limiting dose escalation. The pharmacology and pharmacokinetics of 13-cis-retinoic acid has been explored in a number of patients and a long terminal half-life demonstrated. This review will discuss 13-cis-retinoic acid as a good model for a biological response modifier.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Isomerism
  • Isotretinoin
  • Kinetics
  • Metabolic Clearance Rate
  • Mice
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Retinoids / analysis
  • Retinoids / metabolism
  • Retinol-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Tretinoin / pharmacology*
  • Tretinoin / therapeutic use
  • Tretinoin / toxicity


  • Retinoids
  • Retinol-Binding Proteins
  • Tretinoin
  • Isotretinoin