Extrahepatic vitamin A is housed within organ-specific stellate cells that support local tissue function. These cells have been reported in the vocal fold mucosa (VFM) of the larynx; however, it is unknown how vitamin A reaches and is disseminated among VFM target cells, how VFM storage and utilization vary as a function of total body stores, and how these parameters change in the context of pathology. Therefore, in this study, we investigated fundamental VFM vitamin A uptake and metabolism.
Using cadaveric tissue and serum from human donors representing the full continuum of clinical vitamin A status, we established a concentration range and analyzed the impact of biologic and clinical covariates on VFM vitamin A. We additionally conducted immunodetection of vitamin A-associated markers and pharmacokinetic profiling of orally dosed α-retinyl ester (a chylomicron tracer) in rats.
Serum vitamin A was a significant predictor of human VFM concentrations, suggesting that VFM stores may be rapidly metabolized in situ and replenished from the circulatory pool. On a vitamin A-sufficient background, dosed α-vitamin A was detected in rat VFM in both ester and alcohol forms, showing that, in addition to plasma retinol and local stellate cell stores, VFM can access and process postprandial retinyl esters from circulating chylomicra. Both α forms were rapidly depleted, confirming the high metabolic demand for vitamin A within VFM.
This thorough physiological analysis validates VFM as an extrahepatic vitamin A repository and characterizes its unique uptake, storage, and utilization phenotype.