Mathematical modeling of serum 13C-retinol in captive rhesus monkeys provides new insights on hypervitaminosis A

Anne L. Escaron, Michael H. Green, Julie A. Howe, Sherry A. Tanumihardjo

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23 Scopus citations


Hypervitaminosis A is increasingly a public health concern, and thus noninvasive quantitative methods merit exploration. In this study, we applied the 13C-retinol isotope dilution test to a nonhuman primate model with excessive liver stores. After baseline serum chemistries, rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta; n = 16) were administered 3.5 μmol 13C 2-retinyl acetate. Blood was drawn at baseline, 5 h, and 2, 4, 7, 14, 21, and 28 d following the dose. Liver biopsies were collected 7 d before and 2 d after dosing (n = 4) and at 7, 14, and 28 d (n = 4/time) after dosing. Serum and liver were analyzed by HPLC and GC-combustion-isotope ratio MS for retinol and its enrichment, respectively. Model-based compartmental analysis was applied to serum data. Lactate dehydrogenase was elevated in 50% of the monkeys. Total body reserves (TBR) of vitamin A (VA) were calculated at 28 d. Predicted TBR (3.52 ± 2.01 mmol VA) represented measured liver stores (4.56 ± 1.38 mmol VA; P = 0.124). Predicted liver VA concentrations (13.3 ± 9.7 μmol/g) were similar to measured liver VA concentrations (16.4 ± 5.3 μmol/g). The kinetic models predict that 27-52% of extravascular VA is exchanging with serum in hypervitaminotic A monkeys. The test correctly diagnosed hypervitaminosis A in all monkeys, i.e. 100% sensitivity. Stable isotope techniques have important public health potential for the classification of VA status, including hypervitaminosis, because no other technique besides invasive liver biopsies, correctly identifies excessive liver VA stores.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2000-2006
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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