FASTING IMPROVES STEM CELLS’ REGENERATIVE CAPACITY
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 revealed that fasting dramatically improves stem cells’ ability to regenerate, in both aged and young mice. 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.
“This study provided evidence that fasting induces a metabolic switch in the intestinal stem cells, from utilising carbohydrates to burning fat,” said David Sabatini, an MIT professor of biology and the paper’s another senior author.