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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Retinoids in nephrology: promises and pitfalls.

BACKGROUND: Retinoids, a family of vitamin A metabolites or analogs, play an important role in regulating cell proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis. METHODS: The biological importance of retinoids in the kidney and the potential of retinoids in the treatment of renal diseases are reviewed. RESULTS: Vitamin A deficiency and mutations of retinoid nuclear receptors cause abnormalities in fetal kidneys, which might predispose to adult diseases such as hypertension. Further, the therapeutic value of retinoids in animal models of kidney diseases, such as lupus nephritis, puromycin aminonucleoside nephrosis, anti-glomerular basement membrane nephritis, mesangioproliferative nephritis, and acute renal allograft rejection has been unveiled recently. Retinoids target mesangial cells, podocytes, tubular epithelial cells, interstitial fibroblasts, as well as lymphocytes and macrophages. The anti-inflammation, anti-coagulation effects, and the proliferation- and immunity-modulating actions of retinoids, have been widely appreciated. Our recent in vitro data revealed a direct antifibrotic effect and a cytoprotective effect of retinoids in various renal cell types. In animal studies, the adverse effects of retinoids are generally minimal; however, the clinical use of retinoids in other diseases points to some major side effects. In addition, in vitro, retinoids can induce lipid accumulation in smooth muscle cells and macrophages and increase expression of some proinflammatory molecules, indicating that their clinical toxicity profile in the setting of renal diseases needs to be better understood. CONCLUSION: Retinoids not only are important in renal development, but also show promise as a new generation of renal medication and deserve to be tested in clinical trials to clarify their full potential.[1]


  1. Retinoids in nephrology: promises and pitfalls. Xu, Q., Lucio-Cazana, J., Kitamura, M., Ruan, X., Fine, L.G., Norman, J.T. Kidney Int. (2004) [Pubmed]
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