Researchers Discover Link Between Vitamin A Metabolism and Harmful Gut Inflammation

Researchers Discover Link Between Vitamin A Metabolism and Harmful Gut Inflammation
Researchers at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio, have discovered a link between uncontrolled vitamin A metabolism and damaging inflammation in the gut. The discovery adds key details regarding the relationship between diet and inflammatory diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and could help doctors target nutritional strategies for patients. Vitamin A metabolism starts with beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is the red-orange pigment nutrient in plants and fruits that gives certain foods their characteristic color, such as carrots and pumpkins. Beta-carotene, also known as provitamin A, is transformed into vitamin A in the small intestine. Vitamin A is then mostly transported to other tissues to support many functions, such as healthy vision. However, part of the vitamin A stays in the gut. Here, this nutrient is used to produce a growth factor, or hormone, for immune cells. This hormone triggers immune cells to proliferate and makes them active, causing inflammation in the gut when too much vitamin A is present. In the study, “Transcription factor ISX mediates the cross talk between diet and immunity,” published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers described an important branching point in the metabolic pathway for vitamin A. This branching point hinges on a single protein called ISX. By studying mice genetically modified to lack ISX, the team found that this protein helps the body maintain a balanced process between beta-carotene and gut inflammation. “Vitamin A exists in the diet as beta-carotene, which is enzymatically converted by cells lining the intes
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2 comments

  1. Charlotte says:

    I don’t have Crohn’s but UC. Sometimes I get this strong craving for cooked carrots that I can’t explain. I wonder if there could beta connection? (Haha. ) A stretch, I realize but it makes me wonder.

  2. Barbara Keegan says:

    As a Crohn’s patient at Brigham and Women’s hospital, Dr. Joshua Korzeik is my Gastroenterologist, I read with great interest that there is a link between vitamin A and a dysfunctional gut, which I live with everyday! I have undergone surgery twice and have had fistulas. Now I am on infusions of Entyvio every six weeks. I consume so much vitamin A from my diet of pasta sauce, carrots, pumpkin and salmon and ironically, I have had a lot of problems with my vision. I would be very interested in learning more about this research and happy to contribute in any way possible. Please contact me by email.

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