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Vitamin C enhances production of adult stem cells

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By David Liu

Chinese scientists have found that vitamin C boosts the reprogramming of adult cells into stem cells, according to a new study published on Dec 24 by Cell Press in the journal Cell Stem Cell.

The study led by Dr. Duanqing Pei from the South China Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine in Guangzhou, China found that vitamin C when it was applied to both mouse and human cells enhanced the regeneration of induced pluripotent stem cells or IPSCs.

IPSCs are embryonic like stem cells regenerated from adult cells.  Certain adult cells have been known to be potentially reprogrammed to be transformed into some type stem cells, which scientists hope may be used in the future to grow tissue and or organs for medical applications.

Unfortunately, the process for the regeneration of stem cells of this type is not efficient enough.  The scientists believed that reactive oxygen species or otherwise known as ROS during the reprogramming may be a factor that affects the efficiency.

Vitamin C has been known largely as an antioxidant to help prevent cold, cancer and slow the aging process.  But Dr. Pei and colleagues found that it may not be the antioxidant properties that help the reprogramming of the stem cells as other types of antioxidants did not have the same effect.

"Our results highlight a simple way to improve iPSC generation and provide additional insight into the mechanistic basis of reprogramming," concluded Dr. Pei.

"It is also of interest that a vitamin with long-suspected anti-aging effects has such a potent influence on reprogramming, which can be considered a reversal of the aging process at the cellular level. It is likely that our work may stimulate further research in this area as well."

For more information on vitamin C, read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitamin_C


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