Retinoic Acid-mediated Nuclear Receptor Activation and Hepatocyte Proliferation

Nathan Bushue, Yu-Jui Yvonne Wan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Due to their well-known differentiation and apoptosis-inducing abilities, retinoic acid (RA) and its analogs have strong anti-cancer efficacy in human cancers. However, in vivo RA is a liver mitogen. While speculation has persisted that RA-mediated signaling is likely involved in hepatocyte proliferation during liver regeneration, direct evidence is still required. Findings in support of this proposition include observations that a release of retinyl palmitate (the precursor of RA) occurs in liver stellate cells following liver injury. Nevertheless, the biological action of this released vitamin A is virtually unknown. More likely is that the released vitamin A is converted to RA, the biological form, and then bound to a specific receptor (retinoid × receptor; RXRα), which is most abundantly expressed in the liver. Considering the mitogenic effects of RA, the RA-activated RXRα would likely then influence hepatocyte proliferation and liver tissue repair. At present, the mechanism by which RA stimulates hepatocyte proliferation is largely unknown. This review summarizes the activation of nuclear receptors (peroxisome proliferator activated receptor-α, pregnane × receptor, constitutive androstane receptor, and farnesoid × receptor) in an RXRα dependent manner to induce hepatocyte proliferation, providing a link between RA and its proliferative role.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-30
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Experimental and Clinical Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • liver
  • nuclear receptor
  • proliferation
  • regeneration
  • retinoic acid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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