Retinoids as teratogens

Annu Rev Nutr. 1995;15:111-32. doi: 10.1146/


Vitamin A is a necessary nutrient in the diet. However, excessive doses of retinoids by pregnant women result in teratogenesis. In this chapter, we initially discuss the occurrence and characteristics of fetal malformations associated with maternal ingestion of natural and synthetic retinoids in both experimental animals and humans. We then turn to an examination of the pharmacology of teratogenic retinoids, focusing on structure-function relationships and pharmacokinetics. Finally, we review the current literature on the molecular mechanism of action of teratogenic doses of retinoids and the role of the retinoic acid receptors and other target genes in this process.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Abnormalities, Drug-Induced / epidemiology
  • Animals
  • Animals, Laboratory
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Embryonic and Fetal Development / drug effects
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / drug effects
  • Genes, Homeobox / drug effects
  • Genes, Homeobox / physiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Pregnancy
  • Retinoids / adverse effects*
  • Retinoids / pharmacokinetics
  • Retinoids / pharmacology*
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Teratogens / pharmacokinetics
  • Teratogens / pharmacology*


  • Retinoids
  • Teratogens