News

Vitamin C slows ageing

December 24, 2009

Vitamin C shows promise in slowing down the ageing process, a new study reports.

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. Although the reprogrammed cells, called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), have tremendous potential for regenerative medicine, the conversion is extremely inefficient.

Researchers found that adding vitamin C, an essential nutrient that is abundant in citrus fruits, enhanced iPSC generation from human cells (1). Vitamin C accelerated gene expression changes and promoted a more efficient transition to the fully reprogrammed state. Surprisingly, other antioxidants did not have the same effect, but vitamin C does seem to act at least in part through slowing cell senescence.

Stem cells are cells found in most, if not all, multi-cellular organisms. They are characterized by the ability to renew themselves through cell division and differentiating into a diverse range of specialized cell types. Pluripotent human embryonic stem cells have the ability to differentiate or become almost any cell in the body.

Medical researchers believe that stem cell therapy has the potential to dramatically change the treatment of human disease. A number of adult stem cell therapies already exist, particularly bone marrow transplants that are used to treat leukemia. In the future, medical researchers anticipate being able to use technologies derived from stem cell research to treat a wider variety of diseases including cancer, Parkinson's disease, spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, and muscle damage, amongst a number of other impairments and conditions.

References

  1. Esteban MA et al. Vitamin C Enhances the Generation of Mouse and Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells. Cell Stem Cell. 2009.