Friday January 18, 2019

Fasting Can Improve the Regenerating Ability of Intestinal Cells

"This study provided evidence that fasting induces a metabolic switch in the intestinal stem cells, from utilizing carbohydrates to burning fat," said David Sabatini, an MIT professor of biology and the paper's another senior author.

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New DNA tool can trace your origins to Vikings, Pixabay

The US biologists found that a 24-hour fast can reverse the age-related loss of intestinal stem cell function that can regenerate new intestinal cells.

The study, published on Thursday in the journal Cell Stem Cell, revealed that fasting dramatically improves stem cells’ ability to regenerate, in both aged and young mice, Xinhua reported.

In fasting mice, cells begin breaking down fatty acids instead of glucose, a change that stimulates the stem cells to become more regenerative.

The researchers found that they could also boost regeneration with a molecule that activates the same metabolic switch and such an intervention could potentially help older people recovering from gastrointestinal infections or cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.

“Fasting has many effects in the intestine, which include boosting regeneration as well as potential uses in any type of ailment that impinges on the intestine, such as infections or cancers,” said Omer Yilmaz, an assistant professor of biology in Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and one of the senior authors of the study.

The US biologists found that a 24-hour fast can reverse the age-related loss of intestinal stem cell function that can regenerate new intestinal cells.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Pixabay

“This study provided evidence that fasting induces a metabolic switch in the intestinal stem cells, from utilizing carbohydrates to burning fat,” said David Sabatini, an MIT professor of biology and the paper’s another senior author.

“Interestingly, switching these cells to fatty acid oxidation enhanced their function significantly. Pharmacological targeting of this pathway may provide a therapeutic opportunity to improve tissue homeostasis in age-associated pathologies.”

Intestinal stem cells are responsible for maintaining the lining of the intestine, which typically renews itself every five days. When an injury or infection occurs, stem cells are key to repairing any damage. However as people age, the regenerative abilities of these intestinal stem cells decline, so it takes longer for the intestine to recover.

After mice fasted for 24 hours, the researchers removed intestinal stem cells and grew them in a culture dish, allowing them to determine whether the cells can give rise to “mini-intestines” known as organoids.

The researchers found that stem cells from the fasting mice doubled their regenerative capacity.

The researchers sequenced the messenger RNA of stem cells from the mice that fasted, and revealed that fasting induces cells to switch from their usual metabolism, which burns carbohydrates such as sugars, to metabolizing fatty acids.

This switch occurs through the activation of transcription factors called PPARs, which turn on many genes that are involved in metabolizing fatty acids, according to the researchers.

Also Read: Gut Bacteria Linked to Atherosclerosis, Which is Further Linked to Heart Attack

The researchers found that if they turned off this pathway, fasting could no longer boost regeneration and they could reproduce the beneficial effects of fasting by treating mice with a molecule that mimics the effects of PPARs.

The findings suggest that drug treatment could stimulate regeneration without requiring patients to fast, which is difficult for most people.

One group that could benefit from such treatment is cancer patients who are receiving chemotherapy, which often harms intestinal cells.

It could also benefit older people who experience intestinal infections or other gastrointestinal disorders that can damage the lining of the intestine. (IANS)

Next Story

U.S. Envoy Advances Peace Talk Efforts In Afghanistan

The U.S. fulfilled a major Taliban demand last year of talking directly to the Americans, in an effort to jumpstart a peace process.

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U.S. special envoy for peace in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, talks with local reporters at the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, Nov. 18, 2018. VOA

Zalmay Khalilzad, the man responsible for overseeing America’s negotiations with the Afghan Taliban, arrived Tuesday night in Kabul, after making stops in India, the United Arab Emirates, and China. He is expected to visit Islamabad next.

His outreach to regional players continues despite what seems like a setback in talks with the Taliban.

“The [dialogue] process has halted for now so the venue and the date for a future meeting are not known,” a senior Taliban official who is privy to the developments confirmed to VOA earlier this week when asked whether their peace talks with the U.S. were still on track.

Talks scheduled with the Taliban in Saudi Arabia earlier this month were called off by the insurgent group after it came under pressure by the host government to meet with representatives of the current Afghan government.

Afghanistan, Peace Talks
A general view of the Taliban office in Doha, Qatar, May 2, 2015, site of several past negotioations with the Taliban. VOA

The insurgent group pushed to change the venue to Doha, Qatar, but later canceled those talks as well over disagreements on the agenda.

The last significant round of talks between Khalilzad and the Taliban was held in December in Abu Dhabi. Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the host government also took part in that round.

The Afghan government sent a delegation to Abu Dhabi in hopes of joining the talks, but the Taliban refused to meet them.

The group so far has resisted pressure from multiple actors, including the U.S., to meet with the Kabul administration, calling it a “puppet” regime unable to deliver on their demands.

The U.S. goal, according to a statement issued by its embassy in Kabul, is to “encourage the parties to come together at the negotiating table to reach a political settlement.”

Afghanistan, Peace Talks
Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani, right in backgroud, and U.S. special envoy for peace in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, left in background, meet in Kabul, Nov.10, 2018. VOA

Khalilzad will meet with President Ashraf Ghani, CEO Abdullah Abdullah, and political leaders to “discuss the next steps in U.S. efforts to support and facilitate an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process,” the statement added.

 

A feud among Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar also seems to be damaging the process, say various media reports. According to the Reuters news agency, Saudi and UAE diplomats refused to take part in any meeting held in Qatar, where the Taliban maintain an unofficial political office. The two countries severed ties with Qatar in 2017, accusing the Gulf state of funding militants – a charge Doha denies.

In December, it was reported that President Donald Trump told the Pentagon to prepare for the withdrawal of 7,000 American military personnel from Afghanistan, which would reduce the U.S. presence in the country by half.

Also Read: Peace Talks With The U.S. Stalled: Taliban

The U.S. fulfilled a major Taliban demand last year of talking directly to the Americans, in an effort to jumpstart a peace process. Since then, several rounds of negotiations between the two have been held, albeit without the Kabul administration.

Meanwhile, security in Afghanistan continues to present a major challenge. An attack in Kabul Monday killed several people and wounded dozens of others. (VOA)