|Pronunciation||See pronunciation note|
|Trade names||Vesanoid, Avita, Renova, Retin-a, others|
|Topical, by mouth|
|Protein binding||> 95%|
|Elimination half-life||0.5-2 hours|
|CompTox Dashboard (EPA)|
|Chemical and physical data|
|Molar mass||300.4412 g/mol g·mol−1|
|3D model (JSmol)|
|Melting point||180 °C (356 °F)|
Tretinoin, also known as all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA), is medication used for the treatment of acne and acute promyelocytic leukemia. For acne, it is applied to the skin as a cream or ointment. For leukemia, it is taken by mouth for up to three months.
Common side effects when used by mouth include shortness of breath, headache, numbness, depression, skin dryness, itchiness, hair loss, vomiting, muscle pains, and vision changes. Other severe side effects include high white blood cell counts and blood clots. When used as a cream, side effects include skin redness, peeling, and sun sensitivity. Use during pregnancy is contraindicated due to the risk of birth defects. It is in the retinoid family of medications.
Tretinoin was patented in 1957, and approved for medical use in 1962. It is on the World Health Organization's List of Essential Medicines, the safest and most effective medicines needed in a health system. Tretinoin is available as a generic medication. In the United Kingdom the cream together with erythromycin costs the NHS about £7.05 per 25 mL while the pills are £1.61 per 10 mg. In 2016, it was the 297th most prescribed medication in the United States with more than a million prescriptions.
People using the topical form should not also use any cream or lotion that has a strong drying effect, contains alcohol, astringents, spices, lime, sulfur, resorcinol, or aspirin, as these may interact with tretinoin or exacerbate its side effects.
Tretinoin is used to induce remission in people with acute promyelocytic leukemia who have a mutation (the t(15;17) translocation 160 and/or the presence of the PML/RARα gene) and who don't respond to anthracyclines or can't take that class of drug. It is not used for maintenance therapy.
Topical tretinoin is only for use on skin and it should not be applied to eyes or mucosal tissues. Common side effects include skin irritation, redness, swelling, and blistering.
There are many significant side effects from this drug that include malaise (66%), shivering (63%), hemorrhage (60%), infections (58%), peripheral edema (52%), pain (37%), chest discomfort (32%), edema (29%), disseminated intravascular coagulation (26%), weight increase (23%), injection site reactions (17%), anorexia (17%), weight decrease (17%), and myalgia (14%).
Respiratory side effects usually signify retinoic acid syndrome, and include upper respiratory tract disorders (63%), dyspnea (60%), respiratory insufficiency (26%), pleural effusion (20%), pneumonia (14%), rales (14%), and expiratory wheezing (14%), and many others at less than 10%.
Around 23% of people taking the drug have reported earache or a feeling of fullness in their ears.
Gastrointestinal disorders include bleeding (34%), abdominal pain (31%), diarrhea (23%), constipation (17%), dyspepsia (14%), and swollen belly (11%) and many others at less than 10%.
In the cardiovascular system, side effects include arrhythmias (23%), flushing (23%), hypotension (14%), hypertension (11%), phlebitis (11%), and cardiac failure (6%) and for 3% of patients: cardiac arrest, myocardial infarction, enlarged heart, heart murmur, ischemia, stroke, myocarditis, pericarditis, pulmonary hypertension, secondary cardiomyopathy.
Mechanism of action
For its use in cancer, its mechanism of action is unknown, but on a cellular level, laboratory tests show that tretinoin forces APL cells to differentiate and stops them from proliferating; in people there is evidence that it forces the primary cancerous promyelocytes to differentiate into their final form, allowing normal cells to take over the bone marrow. Recent study shows that ATRA inhibits and degrades active PIN1.
For its use in acne, the mechanism is unknown, but again on a cellular level there is evidence that it decreases the ability of epithelial cells in hair follicles to stick together, leading to fewer blackheads; it also seems to make the epithelial cells divide faster, causing the blackheads to be pushed out.
Tretinoin is synthesized from Beta-carotene. The Beta-carotene is firstly cleaved into Beta-carotene 15-15'-monooxygenase through site 1 double bond oxidized to epoxide. The epoxide is attacked by water to form diol in site 1. NADH, as a reduction agent, reduce the alcohol group to aldehydes.
Tretinoin was co-developed for its use in acne by James Fulton and Albert Kligman when they were at University of Pennsylvania in the late 1960s. The University of Pennsylvania held the patent for Retin-A, which it licensed to pharmaceutical companies.
The origin of the name tretinoin is uncertain, although several sources agree (one with probability, one with asserted certainty) that it probably comes from trans- + retinoic [acid] + -in, which is plausible given that tretinoin is the all-trans isomer of retinoic acid. The name isotretinoin is the same root tretinoin plus the prefix iso-. Regarding pronunciation, the following variants apply equally to both tretinoin and isotretinoin. Given that retinoic is pronounced //, it is natural that // is a commonly heard pronunciation. Dictionary transcriptions also include // (tri-TIN-oh-in) and //.
- Baldness treatments
- Hypervitaminosis A syndrome
- Talarozole, an experimental drug potentiating the effects of tretinoin
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