- Human pathology

Home > A. Molecular pathology > retinoids


Wednesday 14 April 2004

The retinoids are a class of chemical compounds that are related chemically to vitamin A (mainly, retinol).

Retinoids have many important and diverse functions throughout the body including roles in vision, regulation of cell proliferation and differentiation, growth of bone tissue, immune function, and activation of tumor suppressor genes.

There are three generations of Retinoids:

First generation retinoids: which include retinol, retinal, tretinoin (retinoic acid, Retin-A), isotretinoin and alitretinoin.

Second generation retinoids: which include etretinate and its metabolite acitretin.

Third generation retinoids: which include tazarotene, bexarotene and Adapalene.


Retinoids are used in medicine, primarily due to the way they regulate epithelial cell growth.

Research is also being done into their ability to treat skin cancers. Currently 9-cis retinoic acid may be used topically to help treat skin lesions from Kaposi’s sarcoma.


- Merino R, Hurle JM. The molecular basis of retinoid action in tumors. Trends Mol Med. 2003 Dec;9(12):509-11. PMID: 14659462

- Ross SA, McCaffrey PJ, Drager UC, DeLuca LM: Retinoids in embryonal development. Physiol Rev 80:1021, 2000.