Introduction In the previous issue of the Newsletter an attempt was made to take a look into the future and to predict what might be some of the major developments in the vitamin A area. Several appreciative comments were received and this has emboldened me to take a further step. Everyone knows that the area of our overall interest is already very wide and is constantly expanding. Even limited electronic literature searches throw up hundreds of new titles every few months. With the preparation of the Literature Digest 2005/3 in mind, further careful selection for suitable material resulted in an amount many times over what the Editor could accommodate. Rather than giving just the barest minimum of information for each item it seemed more worthwhile to concentrate on certain areas. In the broadest terms the abstracts chosen below are divided into two groups: 1) Basic Experimental Studies and 2) Community Studies. Those in the former group are illustrative, although by no means exhaustively, of research that is extending the frontiers at the molecular level of the relevance of retinoids in numerous aspects of the life process. Four topics, out of many, have been selected to make this point. These relate to: 1) the nervous system, 2) the visual system, 3) the reproductive system, and 4) novel actions of β-carotene. The Community Studies demonstrate how new, and not so new, knowledge is being applied for the betterment of the human condition. These abstracts relate to problems of 1) developing countries and 2) industrialized countries. The writing of short, accurate, helpful abstracts for a very mixed readership is not an easy art to learn or to practice. It goes without saying that the writer cannot be equally expert in all areas, while trying to be all things to all men. The purpose of these abstracts is not so much to inform the reader as to alert him/her to important new findings and to provide the source for more detailed exploration. In particular, the results of basic experiments often suggest to the alert reader what might be especially relevant at the human community level. To give a specific example: much basic research indicates the intimate involvement of retinoids in the nervous and reproductive systems. What are the implications for man? It is hoped that these modest goals will be achieved and that readers will feel their time has been profitably spent.
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