Review article


, 4:22

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Retinoic acid and cancer treatment

  • Mei-Chih ChenAffiliated withDepartment of Medical Research, Taichung Veterans General Hospital
  • , Shih-Lan HsuAffiliated withDepartment of Medical Research, Taichung Veterans General Hospital
  • , Ho LinAffiliated withDepartment of Life Sciences, National Chung Hsing University Email author 
  • , Tsung-Ying YangAffiliated withDepartment of Chest Medicine, Taichung Veterans General Hospital Email author 


Retinoic acid which belongs to the retinoid class of chemical compounds is an important metabolite of vitamin A in diets. It is currently understood that retinoic acid plays important roles in cell development and differentiation as well as cancer treatment. Lung, prostate, breast, ovarian, bladder, oral, and skin cancers have been demonstrated to be suppressed by retinoic acid. Our results also show that low doses and high doses of retinoic acid may respectively cause cell cycle arrest and apoptosis of cancer cells. Also, the common cell cycle inhibiting protein, p27, and the new cell cycle regulator, Cdk5, are involved in retinoic acid’s effects. These results provide new evidence indicating that the molecular mechanisms of/in retinoic acid may control cancer cells’ fates. Since high doses of retinoic acid may lead to cytotoxicity, it is probably best utilized as a potential supplement in one’s daily diet to prevent or suppress cancer progression. In this review, we have collected numerous references demonstrating the findings of retinoic acid in melanoma, hepatoma, lung cancer, breast cancer, and prostate cancer. We hope these observations will shed light on the future investigation of retinoic acid in cancer prevention and therapy.


Retinoic acid Cancer