All-trans-[11-3H]retinoyl beta-glucuronide (RAG) was synthesized in a single step from all-trans-[11-3H]retinoyl fluoride, with a 24% yield. After its intraperitoneal injection into rats, RAG was detected in the blood, liver, intestine and kidney during the following 24 h period. Although the concentration of radiolabelled metabolites decreased with time, RAG predominated at nearly all times in nearly all tissues. Small amounts of retinoic acid (RA) were also universally present, together with unidentified polar metabolites and small amounts of non-polar esters of RA. The major excretion products of RAG in faeces and urine were RA and polar metabolites. Thus RAG, although converted in part to RA in vivo, persists as a major component in blood and tissues for at least 24 h. These observations support the concept that the retinoid beta-glucuronides might serve a physiologically significant role in the function of vitamin A.

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