Retinoids in Cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Helen B Everts, Eleonore-Nausica Akuailou
Nutrients 2021 January 5, 13 (1)
Animal studies as early as the 1920s suggested that vitamin A deficiency leads to squamous cell metaplasia in numerous epithelial tissues including the skin. However, humans usually die from vitamin A deficiency before cancers have time to develop. A recent long-term cohort study found that high dietary vitamin A reduced the risk of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC). cSCC is a form of nonmelanoma skin cancer that primarily occurs from excess exposure to ultraviolet light B (UVB). These cancers are expensive to treat and can lead to metastasis and death. Oral synthetic retinoids prevent the reoccurrence of cSCC, but side effects limit their use in chemoprevention. Several proteins involved in vitamin A metabolism and signaling are altered in cSCC, which may lead to retinoid resistance. The expression of vitamin A metabolism proteins may also have prognostic value. This article reviews what is known about natural and synthetic retinoids and their metabolism in cSCC.

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