The components of VARA, a nutrient-metabolite combination of vitamin A and retinoic acid, act efficiently together and separately to increase retinyl esters in the lungs of neonatal rats

A. Catharine Ross, Nan Qian Li, Lili Wu

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Retinoic acid (RA), produced from vitamin A (VA, retinol), is required for normal lung development and postnatal lung maturation. The concentration of retinyl ester (RE), the major storage form of retinol, decreases in the lungs in the perinatal period. Previously, we tested VARA, a nutrient-metabolite combination of VA and RA (10:1 molar ratio), on lung RE formation in postnatal rats and showed that the components of VARA acted synergistically to increase lung RE, as compared with the effects of equal amounts of VA and RA given alone. In this study, we first determined the equivalency of orally administered VARA in comparison to a standard oral supplement of VA, with respect to lung and liver RE storage. In a dose-dilution study, VARA was 4 times as effective as the standard dose of VA (VARA-25% did not differ from VA-100%). The synergistic effect of VARA was selective for the lungs, compared with the liver, in which VA and VARA had equal effects. Secondly, we tested whether the 2 components of VARA must be coadministered to exert their synergistic effect on lung RE content. RA and VA and were administered separately and together as VARA. Although RA alone had no effect on lung RE in this 24-h experiment, RA synergized with VA administered either 12 h before RA or 12 h after RA, as well as when coadministered as VARA. We infer that VA and RA are both limiting for lung RE formation in neonates. Given the importance of bioactive retinoids in cell differentiation and lung development, assuring an adequate lung RE content postnatally could be of benefit for lung maturation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2803-2807
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2006


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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