The retinoids are a class of
chemical compoundsthat are related chemically to vitamin A. Retinoids are used in medicine, primarily due to the way they regulate epithelial cellgrowth.
Retinoids have many important and diverse functions throughout the body including roles in vision, regulation of cell proliferation and differentiation, growth of
bonetissue, immunefunction, and activation of tumor suppressor genes.
Research is also being done into their ability to treat
skin cancers. Currently 9-cis retinoic acidmay be used topically to help treat skin lesions from Kaposi's sarcoma.
There are three generations of Retinoids:
* First generation retinoids: which include
retinol, retinal, tretinoin( retinoic acid, Retin-A), isotretinoinand alitretinoin.
* Second generation retinoids: which include
etretinateand its metabolite acitretin.
* Third generation retinoids: which include
tazarotene, bexaroteneand Adapalene.
The basic structure of the retinoid molecule consist of a cyclic end group, a
polyeneside chain and a polar end group. The conjugated systemformed by alternating C=C double bonds in the polyene side chain are responsible for the color of retinoids (typically yellow, orange, or red). Hence, many retinoids are chromophores. Alternation of side chains and end groups creates the various classes of retinoids.
First and Second generation retinoids are able to bind with several
retinoid receptors due to the flexibility imparted by their alternating single and double bonds.
Third generation retinoids are less flexible than First and Second generation retinoids and therefore, interact with fewer retinoid receptors.
The major source of retinoids from the diet are retinyl esters derived from animal sources. Retinyl esters are hydrolyzed in the intestinal lumen to yield free retinol and the corresponding fatty acid (i.e. palmitate or stearate). After hydrolysis, retinol is taken up by the enterocytes. Retinyl ester hydrolysis requires the presence of bile salts that serve to solubilize the retinyl esters in mixed micelles and to activate the hydrolyzing enzymes [Noy, N. (2006) "Vitamin A", "Biochemical, Physiological, & Molecular Aspects of Human Nutrition", M. H. Stipanuk 2nd Ed.]
Several enzymes that are present in the intestinal lumen may be involved in the hydrolysis of dietary retinyl esters. Cholesterol esterase is secreted into the intestinal lumen from the pancreas and has been shown in vitro to display retinyl ester hydrolase activity. In addition, a retinyl ester hydrolase that is intrinsic to the brush-border membrane of the small intestine has been characterized in the rat as well as in the human. The different hydrolyzing enzymes are activated by different types of bile salts and have distinct substrate specificites. For example, whereas the pancreatic estrase is selective for short-chain retinyl esters, the brush-border membrane enzyme preferentially hydrolyzes retinyl esters containing a long-chain fatty acid such as palmitate or stearate. Retinol enters the absorptive cells of the small intestine, preferentially in the all-trans-retinol form .
Retinoids are used in the treatment of many diverse diseases and are effective in the treatment of a number of dermatological conditions such as inflammatory skin disordersFact|date=February 2007,
skin cancersFact|date=February 2007, disorders of increased cell turnover (e.g. psoriasis)Fact|date=February 2007, and photoagingFact|date=February 2007.
Common skin conditions treated by retinoids include acne and
Toxic effects occur with prolonged high intake. The specific toxicity is related to exposure time and the exposure concentration. A
medical signof chronic poisoning is the presence of painful tender swellings on the long bones. Anorexia, skin lesions, hair loss, hepatosplenomegaly, papilloedema, bleeding, general malaise, pseudotumor cerebri, and deathmay also occur.
Chronic overdose also causes an increased liability of biological membranes and of the outer layer of the skin to peel. 
Recent research  has suggested a role for retinoids in cutaneous adverse effects for a variety of drugs including the
Antimalarial drug proguanil. It is proposed that drugs such as proguanilact to disrupt retinoid homeostasis.
The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics-Goodman & Gilman 10th EDT.
* Clinical Pharmacology -P.N. Bennett & M.J. Brown
Hypervitaminosis A syndrome
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