Recently, research data have shown that vitamin A (VA, retinol) as a micronutrient participates in the regulation of glucose and lipid metabolism. Since diabetes is a metabolic disease, it is imperative to reveal the relationship of VA and diabetes. This review was aimed to summarize the current understanding of VA and its metabolites in diabetes. Since April of 2020, the authors have searched the PubMed using key words and retrieved articles that focused on diabetes and VA or its metabolites. Based on the published data, it appears that the development of type 1 diabetes leads to reduction of blood VA level in human and animals, and increase of hepatic VA store in experimental animals. On the other hand, the mutual impacts of type 2 diabetes and VA intake and blood VA level on each other appear to be uncertain. Retinoic acid, the active metabolite of VA, has been studied extensively for the treatment of diabetic complications. The current data appear to indicate that the development of diabetes is associated with changes of VA metabolism. More carefully designed clinical and laboratory experiments are needed to reveal the impacts of diabetes on VA metabolism and the role of VA in the development and treatment of diabetes.
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