Previously Unknown Effect of Vitamin A on Embryonic Blood Development

LUND, Sweden—Signal molecule retinoic acid, a product of vitamin A, influences how different tissues are formed in embryos, according to a study from Lund University.

Researchers have shown for the first time how vitamin A affects human embryo blood cell formation by using stem cells exposed to specific signal molecules.

Study results were published in the February edition of Stem Cell Reports.

What researchers saw was an increased level of retinoic acid reduced the number of blood cells that could be produced, but a reduced presence of it increased the production of blood cells by 300 percent. Therefore they are proposing a new explanatory model of how retinoic acid impacts embryonic blood development.

It has been known that high levels of vitamin A can damage an embryo and increase the risk of birth defects and miscarriage, resulting in recommendations that pregnant women limit their consumption of vitamin A-rich foods. This research confirms the risks.

The researchers hope their findings can increase understanding of blood formation during embryonic development and that future discoveries will lead to treatments of blood disorders and malignancies.

http://www.cell.com/stem-cell-reports/abstract/S2213-6711%2815%2900030-2

 

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