Although it is understood that plasma retinol concentration is not proportional to the concentration of vitamin A stored in liver, plasma retinol still is often used as an indicator of vitamin A status. An aim of vitamin A supplementation strategies is to maintain plasma retinol concentration in a range considered adequate, generally >1.05 μmol/L in humans, with some adjustment for age. In the present study in rats, we addressed the following question: Does lung vitamin A increase postnatally, as is observed in rats fed a vitamin A-adequate diet, if plasma retinol is maintained at ∼1 μmol/L by supplementation at neonatal age, but the weaning diet is deficient in vitamin A? We treated rats on postnatal d 6, 7, and 8 with placebo (oil), vitamin A, retinoic acid (RA), and a nutrient-metabolite combination of vitamin A and RA, VARA, after which tissues were analyzed on d 9. Other rats treated identically as neonates were fed a vitamin A-deficient diet from 3-9 wk of age, and in parallel, another group of rats was fed a vitamin A-adequate diet. Although supplementation with vitamin A or VARA elevated liver and lung retinyl esters (RE) on d 9 (P < 0.0001), and prevented the fall in plasma retinol to <1 μmol/L by 9 wk of age, when the diet was vitamin A-deficient, lung RE fell to 28% of the concentration present in the lungs of rats fed the vitamin A-adequate diet (P < 0.0001). We infer that the lungs depend, at least in part, on the uptake of dietary vitamin A, probably from chylomicrons, to develop RE stores in the postweaning growth period.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Medicine (miscellaneous)
- Nutrition and Dietetics