Our research focuses on understanding the metabolism of fat-soluble vitamins and its influence on human health, at different stages of the life cycle. By taking advantage of genetically modified animal models, our laboratory is primarily interested in the metabolism of vitamin A and b-carotene, the main vitamin A precursor in the human diet.
Vitamin A is essential to maintain vision, reproduction, development and immune function. Furthermore, retinoids (vitamin A and its derivatives) are known to modulate cell growth, differentiation and apoptosis. Alterations of vitamin A metabolism have been associated with human diseases as diverse as retinal dystrophies, cancer, type 2 diabetes and the Matthew Wood Syndrome. Moreover, dietary deficiency of vitamin A (VAD) is a serious widespread problem affecting more that 750 million people worldwide. Even a mild VAD status may increase maternal mortality or affect organogenesis in the fetus, inducing clinically silent anomalies that can have a severe impact on health later in life. On the other hand, consumption of large doses of dietary supplements and vitamins, including b-carotene, has become a very common practice in recent years, generating the necessity to investigate the effects of high doses of vitamins and carotenoids intake at different stages of the lifecycle.
Currently, our specific fields of research include: 1. Maternal-fetal transfer of vitamin A and carotenoids, and regulation of retinoid homeostasis during embryogenesis; 2. Interference between dietary conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and vitamin A metabolism; and 3. Vitamin A signaling in the prostate epithelium.