High expression of retinoic acid receptors and synthetic enzymes in the human hippocampus

Yara Dadalti Fragoso, Kirsty D Shearer, Angelo Sementilli, Leda Viegas de Carvalho, Peter J McCaffery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Retinoic acid, the active form of the nutrient vitamin A, regulates several facets of neuronal plasticity in the hippocampus, including neurogenesis and synaptic strength, acting via specific retinoic acid receptors (RARs). Essential for conversion of vitamin A to retinoic acid is the enzyme retinaldehyde dehydrogenase (RALDH) and in the rodent hippocampus this is only present in the adjacent meninges where it must act as a locally released paracrine hormone. Little is known though about the expression of RALDHs and RARs in the human hippocampus. This study confirms that RALDH levels are very low in mouse neurons but, surprisingly, strong expression of RALDH protein is detected by immunohistochemistry in hippocampal neurons. The receptors RARα, β and γ were also detected, each receptor exhibiting differing subcellular locations implying their potential regulation of both transcription and non-genomic actions. These results imply an essential function of retinoic acid in the human hippocampus likely to include regulation of neuronal plasticity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)473-483
Number of pages11
JournalBrain Structure and Function
Issue number2
Early online date11 Nov 2011
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2012


  • vitamin a
  • retinaldehyde dehydrogenase
  • retinoic acid receptor
  • hippocampus
  • dentate gyrus
  • CA1


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