All You Need to Know About Retinoic Acid

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All You Need to Know About Retinoic Acid

Retinoic Acid is a low-molecular-weight lipophilic chemical. Vitamin A (retinol) makes retinoic Acid found in embryos and adult vertebrates.

Because animals cannot manufacture vitamin A, they must rely on carotenoids from plants or retinyl esters from animal products to supplement their diet.

Although the terms “retinoid” and “retinol” are mostly used interchangeably, they are not similar. The name Retinoic Acid refers to a complete of family vitamin A compounds.1

Structure And Properties Of Retinoic Acid

all you need to know about retinoic acid

Its chemical formula is C20H28O2. It is a crystalline powder. Floral order with yellow to light orange color is characteristic of characteristic floral odor. Its average mass is about 300.435 Da. It is also called vitamin A acid. It has a benzene ring in the structure that is a cause of its aromaticity. Methyl substituents are also attached to the ring and over the chain attached to the ring.

Because of the alternating double bonds between the carbon atoms in its hydrophobic tail, connected to a 6-carbon ring, it is a light-sensitive molecule like other retinoids.

The compound’s low molecular weight makes it highly fat-soluble, allowing it to easily.

Pass through cell membranes.2

Bio-Synthesis Of Retinoic Acid

bio synthesis of retinoic acid

Retinoic Acid (RA) was the biologically active form of vitamin A about 70 years ago. Research into its function and mechanism of action continues to be of great interest, both scientifically and clinically.

RA has recently been highlighted as an attractive prospect for future investigation as a treatment for Huntington’s disease.

Retinoic Acid is made from retinol, a precursor found in animal products like milk and eggs.

Once within the body, the precursor is transformed to retinol and subsequently turned to RA through various processes.3

According to the widely recognized approach, RA is formed in two steps: first, retinol is oxidized reversibly to retinaldehyde, and then retinaldehyde is oxidized irreversibly to Retinoic Acid.4

All-trans-retinoic acid is formed in the body by two successive oxidation stages that convert all-trans-retinol to retinaldehyde and then to all-trans-retinoic AcidAcid. Still, it cannot be reduced back to all-trans-retinol once produced.

Retinol dehydrogenase is an enzyme that metabolizes retinol to retinaldehyde, and three types of retinaldehyde dehydrogenases enzymes metabolize retinaldehyde to retinoic Acid during this biosynthesis.5

Sources Of Retinoic Acid

Retinoic Acid is available in naturally occurring food6 and the form of supplements.7

Preformed Retin A-concentrations are highest in liver and fish oils. Milk and eggs, which also contain some Retin A, are other sources of preformed vitamin A.

 Leafy green vegetables, orange and yellow vegetables, tomato products, fruits, and some vegetable oils provide the majority of dietary provitamin A.

Dairy products, liver, fish, and fortified cereals are the main sources of vitamin A in the American diet; carrots, broccoli, cantaloupe, and squash are the top sources of provitamin A.

Retin A is typically found in retinyl acetate or retinyl palmitate in multivitamins separately.

In some supplements, a portion of the Retin A is beta-carotene, and the rest is performed vitamin A; others contain exclusively preformed vitamin A or only beta-carotene.

What is the Importance of retinoic Acid To Health?

Vitamin A and its retinoid derivatives play important roles in various adult activities, including vision, the hippocampus, learning, and memory.

Its impact on Immune function, reproduction, and epithelial function and differentiation is also important.

RA has crucial physiological roles in synaptic plasticity, learning and memory, and adult neurogenesis.

RA modulates gap junction-mediated coupling of retinal neurons and works as a light-signaling neuromodulator in the retina.

It has also been linked to sleep regulation and the circadian clock.

Why Is Retinoic Acid More Effective  Than Retinol?

Retinol is not the same as Retin-A, even though they work in similar ways. Retinol is sometimes referred to as an over-the-counter analog of Retin-A. However, the two products are not interchangeable.

Retinol and Retinoic Acid, also called Retin-A, are the same thing in terms of function. However, retinol is significantly weaker than Retin-A because it is transformed into Retinoic Acid before being used by the skin.

Because Retin-A is retinoic Acid, it can be utilized by the skin immediately after application. As a result, Retin-A is far more effective than retinol.

Even the lowest concentration of Retin-A is more powerful than the highest concentration of retinol.

Are there any disorders linked to the retinoic acid shortage in humans?

Vitamin A deficiency in the diet can result in a weakened immune system, anemia, or blindness. Insufficient vitamin A levels during pregnancy causes fetal vitamin A insufficiency syndrome.

Retin-A causes developmental problems with many of the same characteristics as the RAR/RXR mutations in mice, such as craniofacial and ocular abnormalities.

Retin A is also important for the appropriate formation and maintenance of the heart, lungs, kidneys, and other organs, as it promotes cell growth and differentiation.8

Is it Safe to use Retinoic Acid In Facewash And Face creams?

Retinoic Acid is mostly available in a gel tube-like cream named Tretinoin. Tretinoin isn’t a novel skin treatment.

Tretinoin9 is a generic term for a vitamin A derivative drug, retinoic Acid or retina, retinoic Acid, or Retin A.

Although topical Tretinoin was licensed for clinical use as an acne therapy in the 1960s10, research on the effects of vitamin A on skincare dates back to the 1920s.

 For nearly 50 years, it’s been used to treat mild to moderate acne. Antibacterial substances are sometimes included in Tretinoin combo medications for acne treatment.

According to research11 from Trusted Source, Tretinoin is beneficial in many skin-related areas, Acne-related inflammation is reduced. They provide a way of exfoliating the skin to avoid follicular clogging.

Clinical research12 shows that topical retinoids are highly effective for both non-inflammatory and inflammatory acne, according to a 2017 review.

Tretinoin may help clear existing acne and lessen the quantity and severity of acne breakouts when used regularly.

According to some studies13, retinoic is quite effective in minimizing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines and promoting sun-damaged skin health.

 It also improves the skin texture and reduces the dark patches on the skin.

Is Retinoic Acid Having An Impact On Hair Loss And Alopecia?

It’s also important to note that hair loss is more common in males than in women, as androgenetic alopecia (AGA), the most common kind of hair loss known as male pattern baldness14, affects half of the men by the age of fifty.

When these statistics and research are combined, we have a clearer grasp of how common and life-changing hair loss is.

With so many men suffering from hair loss, it’s no surprise that professionals are always on the lookout for innovative and effective hair loss treatments15, such as topical Tretinoin.

After a few studies, Retin A has proved to be an important hair growth agent. It is used in the treatment of Alopecia.

In a research16 involving 56 participants with androgenetic Alopecia, topical all-trans-retinoic Acid (Tretinoin) alone and in combination with 0.5 percent minoxidil were investigated for hair growth stimulation.

 In 66 percent of the participants tested, a combination of topical Tretinoin and 0.5 percent minoxidil resulted in terminal hair regrowth after a year.

Tretinoin was found to induce some hair regrowth in about 58 percent of the participants in the study. Using just Tretinoin for 18 months, one female participant with significant Alopecia for more than 20 years experienced hair regrowth.

Tretinoin has been demonstrated to increase and control epithelial cell proliferation, differentiation, and vascular proliferation. These elements are crucial in promoting hair development.

These preliminary findings suggest that greater research into the role of retinoids in hair development is needed. The synergistic effect of retinoids in combination with a modest dose of minoxidil should be investigated further.

Is it Possible To Use Retinoic Acid As An Anticancer Drug?

Retinoic Acid has been shown to suppress lung, prostate, breast, ovarian, bladder, oral, and skin cancers. Research further suggests that low and high dosages of retinoic Acid can cause cancer cell cycle arrest and apoptosis, respectively.

A chromosomal translocation unites the promyelocytic leukemia gene (PML) on chromosome 15 with the RAR gene on chromosome 17 to cause acute promyelocytic leukemia.

The recruitment of co-repressor complexes by the PML-RAR fusion protein epigenetically silences gene expression.

Retinoic acid differentiation therapy is being utilized with chemotherapy to treat individuals with acute promyelocytic leukemia17, with a 70-80% cure rate.

In treating squamous cell carcinomas of the skin and cervix with a combination of isotretinoin and recombinant interferon alfa-2a (rIFN alfa-2a, Roferon®-A), outcomes18 were recently reported.

Is Retinoic Acid Bad In Pregnancy

Most pregnant women know that what they put into their bodies impacts their baby’s health. However, you may not realize that what you put on your body might have an impact on both you and your kid.

High amounts of vitamin A during pregnancy have been found in certain studies hazardous to an unborn child. Oral retinoids, such as isotretinoin, have been linked to birth abnormalities.19

Don’t worry if you’ve been using retinoid-containing skincare. Retinoids applied to the skin have not been demonstrated to cause concerns in expecting mothers. Doctors are only being careful in advising you to avoid them.

Excess vitamin A has been demonstrated in studies to impact embryonic development and cause teratogenesis, or the formation of birth abnormalities in a growing fetus.

Pregnant women who consume too much vitamin A and retinoids often have deformities in their fetuses’ skulls, faces, limbs, eyes, and central nervous system.

Pregnant women’s usage of 13-cis-retinoic acid20 can cause developmental abnormalities in fetuses and children, including cleft palates, nonexistent or abnormally tiny ears, heart malformations, and thymus abnormalities.

Etretinate, which is comparable to 13-cis-retinoic Acid, causes limb deformities and heart and thymus abnormalities in infants whose mothers were exposed to it.

Because etretinate stores in deep body compartments, particularly fat depots, and has an extremely long half-life (120 days) in the human body.

The risk of fetal malformations is due to exposure to this substance that persists for a longer period after the pregnant woman’s exposure to the substance ends.

Is There Anything To Be Worried  Regarding  Adverse Effects?

You may notice increased discomfort, including itching and scaly spots21 if you use too high a strength or apply retinol more frequently than recommended.

Acne breakouts have been reported in some persons after using retinol. However, this is a rare side effect. Eczema flare-ups, skin darkening, swelling, and stinging are also uncommon.

However, systemic dosing of these substances has been linked to mucocutaneous side effects, liver toxicity, and altered serum lipid profile.

All this is e linked to an increased risk of coronary heart disease. The teratogenic effect of all retinoids is of special concern.

It limits their usage in women of child-bearing potential. Long-term retinoid therapy22 can cause skeletal anomalies, often mistaken for diffuse idiopathic hyperostosis syndrome.

Measures To Prevent Side Effects Of Retinoic Acid

Sunscreen is required regardless of the retinoid you use. Because of the new skin cells near the surface of your skin, retinoids can make your skin more sensitive to sunburn.

Even if you aren’t burning, you might still get sunburned. Use your retinoid at night and sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher every morning to protect your skin.

You should also gradually adapt your skin to your new retinoid treatment (this is an especially good idea if you have sensitive skin).

To begin, use your retinol product only two to three times each week. It helps your skin to adjust to the retinol and reduce the likelihood of inflammation.

Work your way up to the point where you can use your product every day without bothering your skin.

Last But Not Least

Retinoic Acids have a wide impact on skin advantages, from minimizing wrinkles to alleviating the effects of sun exposure and relieving breakouts.

You might be tempted right in with stronger products to get those benefits right away. But, it would be wise if you start with the lesser ones.

In high doses, constant use and use are linked to cytotoxicity and various deformities, especially during pregnancy.

So, You must be careful, and it is wise not to use them while you are pregnant.

For the most part, this means beginning with a less potent and Retinoic Acid is the best option for it. Retin-AS might be a beneficial addition to your beauty routine.

Your dermatologist or physician can assist you in selecting a retinoic acid product if you need assistance.   


1-Vilhais-Neto, G. C., & Pourquié, O. (2008). Retinoic Acid. Current Biology: CB, 18(5),. R1912

2- Palmer, A. (n.d.-b). Is retinol the same as Retin-A? Verywellhealth.Com. Retrieved December 11, 2021.

3-Nguyen. (2011, August 18). Retinoic Acid (RA).

4- Kedishvili, N. Y. (2016). Retinoic acid synthesis and degradation. Sub-Cellular Biochemistry, 81, 127–161.

 5-Lane, M. A., & Bailey, S. J. (2005-75(4), 275–293

6-Vitamin A. (n.d.). Nih.Gov. Retrieved December 22, 2021

7-Assessment: Could supplements help you? (n.d.). WebMD. Retrieved December 22, 2021.

8-Vitamin A & D. (n.d.). Goodliferx.Com. Retrieved December 22, 2021.

9-Yoham, A. L., & Casadesus, D. (2020). Tretinoin. In StatPearls [Internet]. StatPearls Publishing.

10-Hartmann, D., & Bollag, W. (1993). Historical aspects of the oral use of retinoids in acne.

The Journal of Dermatology, 20(11), 674–678.

11-Pietrangelo, A. (2019, November 15). Tretinoin cream: Skin benefits, how to use, side effects.


12-Leyden, J., Stein-Gold, L., & Weiss, J. (2017). Why topical retinoids are the mainstay of therapy

for acne. Dermatology and Therapy, 7(3), 293–304.

13-Noble, S., & Wagstaff, A. J. (1995). Tretinoin: A review of its pharmacological properties

and clinical efficacy in the topical treatment of photodamaged skin. Drugs & Aging, 6(6), 479–496

14-Male pattern baldness: Symptoms, causes & treatments. (n.d.). Him. Retrieved December 22, 2021.

15-Hair loss treatment products for men. (n.d.). Him. Retrieved December 22, 2021.  

16-Bazzano, G. S., Terezakis, N., & Galen, W. (1986). Topical Tretinoin for hair growth 

Promotion. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 15(4), 880–893.  

17-Chen, M.-C., Hsu, S.-L., Lin, H., & Yang, T.-Y. (2014). Retinoic acid and cancer treatment. BioMedicine, 4(4), 22.

18-Bollag, W., & Holdener, E. E. (1992). Retinoids in cancer prevention and therapy. Annals of

 Oncology, 3(7), 513–526.

19-Safe skincare during pregnancy. (n.d.). BabyCenter. Retrieved December 23, 2021.

20-Search. (n.d.). Asu.Edu. Retrieved December 23, 2021.

21-Common and rare side effects for retinoic Acid. (n.d.). Webmd.Com.

22-David, M., Hodak, E., & Lowe, N. J. (1988). Adverse effects of retinoids. Medical

Toxicology and Adverse Drug Experience, 3(4), 273–288.

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