Touted as a remedy for common cold, Vitamin C has also shown promise in slowing down the ageing process. A study has shown that it facilitates output of embryonic-like stem cells from adult cells.
Over the past few years, it has been known that adult cells can be reprogrammed into cells with characteristics similar to embryonic stem cells by turning on a select set of genes.
Most embryonic stem cells are derived from embryos that develop from eggs fertilised in vitro in a fertilisation clinic.
Although the reprogrammed cells, called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), have tremendous potential for regenerative medicine, the conversion is extremely inefficient.
“The low efficiency of the reprogramming process has hampered progress with this technology and is indicative of how little we understand it,” explains Duanqing Pei, senior author of a new study on the subject.
“Further, this process is most challenging in human cells, raising a significant barrier for producing iPSCs and serious concerns about the quality of the cells that are generated,” explains Pei from South China Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine.
Researchers found that adding vitamin C, an essential nutrient that is abundant in citrus fruits, enhanced iPSC generation from both mouse and human cells.
Vitamin C accelerated gene expression changes and promoted a more efficient transition to the fully reprogrammed state, said a release of the South China Institute.
Somewhat to their surprise, they found that other antioxidants do not have the same effect, but vitamin C does seem to act at least in part through slowing cell senescence.
These findings were published online in Cell Stem Cell.