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Water-soluble vitamin A shows promise.

Water-soluble vitamin A shows promise

In the first animal tests of water-soluble forms of vitamin A, scientists found the compounds remarkably effective in curing vitamin A deficiency in rats. The compounds are less toxic to body tissues than vitamin A's usual fat-soluble form, retinol, and one of the compounds even appears safe for pregnant rats, report Arun B. Barua, Desiree B. Gunning and James A. Olson of Iowa State University in Ames.

The researchers say their new compounds could potentially prove useful in controlling wrinkling and acne in humans while avoiding the complications of retinoic acid derivatives, used in the acne medications tretinoin (Retin-A) and isotretinoin (Accutane). Tretinoin, also used experimentally as an anti-wrinkle cream, burns the skin and kills cells, and isotretinoin, a medication commonly used against severe acne, can cause birth defects if used by pregnant women.

All fat-soluble derivatives of vitamin A are toxic in large doses; water-soluble compounds are less so and thus might be administered more liberally. In addition, the water-soluble derivatives could help prevent vitamin A deficiency, which can lead to blindness, in people with genetic abnormalities or diseases that render them unable to absorb fats and fat-soluble vitamins, Barua says.

To make the water-soluble forms, Barua attached either glucose or glucoronic acid to vitamin A or its metabolite, retinoic acid. The glucose derivatives, when fed or injected into vitamin A-depleted rats, were readily absorbed and allowed the rats to develop just as well as a second group given a form of retinol, whereas a control group of rats died, Olson says.

The glucoronide derivatives, when given to 24 normal pregnant rats, allowed all to produce 8 to 18 normal pups. All fetuses from pregnant rats given comparable doses of retinoic acid died. The reason the glucoronide did not produce adverse effects, Gunning suggests, is that the water-soluble compound probably does not cross the placenta.
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Author:Wicklegren, Ingrid
Publication:Science News
Date:Apr 1, 1989
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