Retinoids in the pancreas
Retinoids (vitamin A and its natural and synthetic analogs) are required by most tissues for maintaining the normal health of the tissue. This is certainly true for the pancreas. The recent literature is convincing that retinoids are needed by the adult to assure normal pancreatic endocrine functions, especially those of the α- and β-cells. It is also well established that retinoids are required to insure normal pancreas development in utero, including the development of the endocrine pancreas. The actions of retinoids for maintaining normal pancreatic islet functions has drawn considerable research interest from investigators interested in understanding and treating metabolic disease. Pancreatic retinoids are also of interest to investigators studying the origins of pancreatic disease, including the development of pancreatic fibrosis and its sequelae. This research interest is focused on pancreatic stellate cells (PSCs) which store retinoids and possess the metabolic machinery needed to metabolize retinoids. The literature on pancreatic disease and retinoids suggests that there is an association between impairments in pancreatic retinoid storage and metabolism and the development of pancreatic disease. These topics will be considered in this review.