The liver is a strategic organ in the metabolism of macro and micronutrients; when its functioning is compromised, it may cause some change in the nutritional status of vitamin A. The purpose of this article is to review scientific evidence in literature on the liver metabolism of vitamin A, the role of ethanol and retinol interactions on hepatic morphology, besides the alterations in the metabolism of this vitamin in alcoholic liver disease. Data were collected from Medline database. The liver is the main organ responsible for the storage, metabolism and distribution of vitamin A to peripheral tissues. This organ uses retinol for its normal functioning such as cell proliferation and differentiation. This way, vitamin A deficiency seems to alter liver morphology. Patients with alcoholic liver disease have been found to have low hepatic levels of retinol in all stages of their disease. In alcoholic liver disease, vitamin A deficiency may result from decreased ingestion or absorption, reduction in retinoic acid synthesis or increased degradation. Long-term alcohol intake results in reduced levels of retinoic acid, which may promote the development of liver tumor. So, in chronic alcoholic subjects, vitamin A status needs to be closely monitored to avoid its deficiency and clinical effects, however its supplementation must be done with caution since the usual dose may be toxic for those who consume ethanol.
vitamin A deficiency; ethanol; liver; alcoholic liver disease; tretinoin; vitamin A