Retinoids in embryonal development

S A Ross, P J McCaffery, U C Drager, L M De Luca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

762 Citations (Scopus)


The key role of vitamin A in embryonal development is reviewed. Special emphasis is given to the physiological action of retinoids, as evident from the retinoid ligand knockout models. Retinoid metabolism in embryonic tissues and teratogenic consequences of retinoid administration at high doses are presented. Physiological and pharmacological actions of retinoids are outlined and explained on the basis of their interactions as ligands of the nuclear retinoid receptors. Immediate target genes and the retinoid response elements of their promoters are summarized. The fundamental role of homeobox genes in embryonal development and the actions of retinoids on their expression are discussed. The similarity of the effects of retinoid ligand knockouts to effects of compound retinoid receptor knockouts on embryogenesis is presented. Although much remains to be clarified, the emerging landscape offers exciting views for future research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1021-1054
Number of pages34
JournalPhysiological Reviews
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2000


  • Abnormalities, Drug-Induced
  • Animals
  • Embryonic and Fetal Development
  • Genes, Homeobox
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Receptors, Retinoic Acid
  • Retinoids
  • Teratogens
  • Acid Response Element
  • Phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase Gene
  • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
  • Early Mouse Embryo
  • Cranial Neural Crest
  • Vitamin-A Intake
  • Normal Cardiovascular Development
  • Teratocarcinoma Stem-Cells
  • Homeobox-Containg Genes
  • Binding-Protein CRABP


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