The Evidence for a Beneficial Role of Vitamin A in Multiple Sclerosis

Yara Dadalti Fragoso, Patrick N. Stoney, Peter J. McCaffery

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)
11 Downloads (Pure)


Vitamin A is an essential nutrient with important roles in immunological responses and in brain development. Its main metabolite is retinoic acid (RA), which is responsible for the neuroimmunological functions related to vitamin A. In the brain, RA is known to have interactions with other nuclear receptor-mediated signalling pathways. RA is involved in plasticity, regeneration, cognition and behaviour. In the peripheral blood, RA plays a major role both in increasing tolerance and in decreasing inflammation, through balancing T-lymphocyte populations. It is likely that RA synthesis may be manipulated by complex cross-talk among cells during infection and inflammation. The role of vitamin A in multiple sclerosis (MS) could be dual: at the same time as it decreases inflammation and increases tolerance of autoimmunity, it may also help in brain protection. The present review discusses the beneficial effects that vitamin A might have for controlling MS, although it must be clearly stated that, at the present time, there is no clear indication for using vitamin A as a treatment for MS. However, the results from the present review should encourage clinical trials with vitamin supplementation as a potential treatment or as an add-on option. Vitamin A acts in synergy with vitamin D, and the immunological homeostasis ensured by these vitamins should not be unbalanced in favour of only one of them.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-299
Number of pages9
JournalCNS Drugs
Issue number4
Early online date21 Feb 2014
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014


  • neurology
  • psychopharmacology
  • pharmacotherapy
  • neurosciences
  • psychiatry


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