Vitamins A, D, E and K are the four fat-soluble vitamins required to maintain good health in higher organisms. The July issue of the Journal of Lipid Research marks the beginning of a thematic series on these vitamins coordinated by editorial board member William S. Blaner of Columbia University. The special section in the July issue includes an introductory editorial by Blaner and four reviews from experts on vitamin A. Subsequent issues this year will explore vitamins D, E and K.
In developing countries, vitamin A deficiency remains a major public health concern, and much research is focused on identifying populations most at risk. Coordinated efforts in molecular research to develop vitamin-A–fortified plant sources could help eradicate this public health problem. Epidemiologic studies are being conducted to understand how dietary intake of the vitamin might be related to development or incidence of certain diseases. The four thematic reviews in July’s JLR focus on vitamin A’s molecular actions and its metabolism.
In one review, Abdulkerim Eroğlu and Earl H. Harrison of Ohio State of University explore the research insights on carotenoid conversion to vitamin A, carotenoid metabolism to create apo-carotenoids, and the actions and metabolism of carotenoids in higher animals.
Columbia University’s Sheila M. O’Byrne and William S. Blaner’s contribution to the series examines how vitamin A is stored in the body as retinyl esters, how they evolved, and how mobilization of these stores is achieved through the actions of specific vitamin-A–binding proteins and enzymes.
Natalia Y. Kedishvili of University of Alabama at Birmingham reviews what is known of the formation of retinoic acid and how it is broken down and eliminated from cells and tissues.
In the fourth and final review, Ziad Al Tanoury, Aleksandr Piskunov and Cecile Rochette-Egly of France’s Institut de Génétique et de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire discuss what is known about the retinoic acid receptors, how retinoic acid can affect genomic expression and the nongenomic effects of vitamin A.
Mary L. Chang (email@example.com) is publications manager for the Journal of Lipid Research and Molecular & Cellular Proteomics.