“We hope this study will lead to a broader understanding and appreciation of the fact that excessive consumption of alcohol has a negative effect on vitamin A function in the body,” said Robin D. Clugston, Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Department of Medicine, Division of Preventive Medicine and Nutrition at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, New York. “Ultimately, we hope that vitamin A will be seen as a broad target for alcohol in multiple tissues of the body and that our understanding of alcohol-induced disease will be linked together by its effects on vitamin A.”
Mice were used as a study model and multiple experiments were conducted on differential groups including those who received alcohol-containing food and alcohol-free food. The researchers analyzed the liver and other organs (i.e., kidney, spleen, heart, lung, white adipose, brown adipose and blood), from both groups of mice and measured tissue vitamin A levels.
The liver is the main site of alcohol breakdown and vitamin A storage. The study demonstrated that vitamin A levels were lower in the liver and higher in other tissues. This strongly suggests that vitamin A in the liver is reduced by excessive alcohol consumption and that these findings are important in the development of alcoholic liver disease.
“This research not only give us new insights into how chronic alcoholism affects vitamin A in the liver,” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal, “but it also sheds light on how our body processes vitamin A overall. This is particularly important since some people get too much vitamin A through ‘supplements,’ while others still do not get enough because of poor access to proper nutrition.”
R. D. Clugston, L.-S. Huang, W. S. Blaner. Chronic alcohol consumption has a biphasic effect on hepatic retinoid loss. The FASEB Journal, 2015; 29 (9): 3654 DOI: 10.1096/fj.14-266296