Published in Cancer Detection and Prevention 1998; 22(1):51-56.

The Effect of 13-cis-Retinoic Acid Chemoprevention on Human Serum Retinol Levels

Scott M Lippman MDa, Steven E Benner MDb, Herbert A Fritsche Jr MDc, Jin Soo Lee MDb, Waun Ki Hong MDb

Departments of aClinical Cancer Prevention; bThoracic/Head and Neck Medical Oncology; cMicrobiology, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX

Address all correspondence and reprint requests to: Scott M. Lippman, M.D., University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Department of Clinical Cancer Prevention, Box 236, 1515 Holcombe Blvd., Houston, TX 77030.

ABSTRACT: This study of the effect of. 1 3-cis-retinoic acid on serum levels of retinol was a laboratory correlate of a clinical chemoprevention trial in asymptomatic chronic smokers. All study participants had squamous metaplasia of the bronchial epithelium and received 6 months' treatment of either 13-cis-retinoic acid (1 mg/ kg/day) or placebo. Baseline serum retinol levels were compared with levels taken immediately post-treatment. The placebo group (N = 38) had little change, whereas the 13-cis-retinoic acid group (N = 35) experienced a decline in retinol levels (p = 0.06). Within the 13-cis-retinoic acid group, women's (N = 13) mean serum retinol levels dropped significantly, from 531 +/- 191 ng/ml (baseline) to 436 +/- 115 ng/ml (post-treatment) (p = 0.03); men's (N = 22) levels virtually did not change (p = 0.43). Therefore, the borderline-significant overall decline in the 13-cis-retinoic acid group was due entirely to the decline among women subjects. The etiology of this effect is unknown. Our results suggest that chronic 13-cis-retinoic acid administration may lead to a clinically significant reduction in serum retinol levels in females. This finding has serious implications for currently ongoing chemoprevention trials that administer 13-cis-retinoic acid for 3 years.

KEY WORDS: chemoprevention, serum retinol, 13-cis-retinoic acid.

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