Hepatic metabolism of retinoids and disease associations.
The liver is the most important tissue site in the body for uptake of postprandial retinoid, as well as for retinoid storage. Within the liver, both hepatocytes and hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) are importantly involved in retinoid metabolism. Hepatocytes play an indispensable role in uptake and processing of dietary retinoid into the liver, and in synthesis and secretion of retinol-binding protein (RBP), which is required for mobilizing hepatic retinoid stores. HSCs are the central cellular site for retinoid storage in the healthy animal, accounting for as much as 50-60% of the total retinoid present in the entire body. The liver is also an important target organ for retinoid actions. Retinoic acid is synthesized in the liver and can interact with retinoid receptors which control expression of a large number of genes involved in hepatic processes. Altered retinoid metabolism and the accompanying dysregulation of retinoid signaling in the liver contribute to hepatic disease. This is related to HSCs, which contribute significantly to the development of hepatic disease when they undergo a process of cellular activation. HSC activation results in the loss of HSC retinoid stores and changes in extracellular matrix deposition leading to the onset of liver fibrosis. An association between hepatic disease progression and decreased hepatic retinoid storage has been demonstrated. In this review article, we summarize the essential role of the liver in retinoid metabolism and consider briefly associations between hepatic retinoid metabolism and disease. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled Retinoid and Lipid Metabolism. © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.