Should My Celiac Child Avoid the Use of Retin-A?


I just read that researchers at the University of Chicago have found that retinoic acid, a derivative of Vitamin A, is a trigger for the inflammatory response to gluten. Does that mean that my teenage daughter with celiac should not use Retin-A topically?




Hi Lynne. This is a good question. I feel there is no official consensus on the use of vitamin A products and celiac disease. I believe more studies need to be done.

In this study done in Chicago, they tested the immune response to retinoic acid in a mouse model of celiac disease. It did show that retinoic acid enhanced the inflammatory response. However, I believe more studies need to be done, as this is a mouse model and sometimes the exact mechanisms do not correlate to human immunology. In other words, mice and humans can be different.

In addition, there are some studies that recommend vitamins E and A to help reduce oxidative stress in children with celiac disease. The overall message is that more studies need to be done to fully understand the role of vitamin A and retinoic acid products. From these preliminary studies, I cannot make any definitive conclusions.


Center for Celiac Disease at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia


Nature. 2011 Mar 10;471(7337):220-4. Epub 2011 Feb 9.
Co-adjuvant effects of retinoic acid and IL-15 induce inflammatory immunity to dietary antigens.
DePaolo RW, Abadie V, Tang F, Fehlner-Peach H, Hall JA, Wang W, Marietta EV, Kasarda DD, Waldmann TA, Murray JA, Semrad C, Kupfer SS, Belkaid Y, Guandalini S, Jabri B.
Source: Department of Medicine, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA.

Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2010 Aug;19(8):1960-5.
Oxidatively damaged DNA/oxidative stress in children with celiac disease.
Szaflarska-Poplawska A, Siomek A, Czerwionka-Szaflarska M, Gackowski D, Rózalski R, Guz J, Szpila A, Zarakowska E, Olinski R.
Source: Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Collegium Medicum in Bydgoszcz, Nicolaus Copernicus University, ul. Karlowicza 24, Bydgoszcz, Poland.

Expert Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2011 Jun;5(3):315-7.
IL-15 modulates the effect of retinoic acid, promoting inflammation rather than oral tolerance to dietary antigens.
Arranz E, Garrote JA.
Mucosal Immunology Laboratory

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