The re-establishment of adequate blood flow in a vessel with a reduced lumen due to an atherosclerotic plaque by percutaneous vascular intervention is a well established procedure. However, the long-term outcome of such interventions is negatively influenced by the development of intimal hyperplasia/restenosis. Although extensively researched, this still represents a significant clinical problem. Retinoids, i.e. natural and synthetic derivates of vitamin A, represent a potential therapeutic compound, since they have been shown to influence the vast majority of processes that ultimately lead to reocclusion of the injured vessel. Retinoids exert their effects at the transcriptional level through their nuclear receptors. Targeting multiple processes, i.e. proliferation, migration, extracellular matrix composition and cell differentiation, as well as coagulation/fibrinolysis, should increase their future role in the prevention of restenosis. The purpose of this review is to summarize the diverse effects of retinoids on pathobiological and biological processes activated at sites of vascular injury with particular emphasis on intimal hyperplasia/restenosis after endovascular interventions.

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