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Fundamental research

27 - 02 - 2018

Low calorie diet improves regeneration by stimulating spare stem cells

Researchers have shown that a low-calorie diet promotes post-irradiation intestinal regeneration in mice by stimulating a particular type of stem cell.


Animal studies have shown that dietary caloric restriction promotes the life expectancy and the aging quality as well as tissue regeneration after injury. It is also known that fasting before chemotherapy decreases the severity of gastrointestinal damage.


But it is not known by what mechanism this beneficial effect of caloric restriction works.


Researchers have attempted to find the answer on a model of tissue regeneration after irradiation in mice.


They found on this model with intestinal damage due to radiation, a category of stem cells called reserve stem cells survived and reconstructed the tissue.



In contrast to conventional stem cells, sensitive to irradiation due to the permanent activity of intestinal tissue renewal, the spare stem cells are dormant and thus protected from radiation. In case of severe tissue damage, these cells wake up.


But these cells are rare: less than one in 200 cells of the intestinal epithelium. However, the researchers found that in mice, a 40% caloric restriction multiplied by five the number of these cells. This would explain the beneficial effect of the diet on tissue regeneration.


A genetic analysis of this model has not yet been made possible to understand the molecular mechanisms that direct these events, but researchers are searching in the hope to find substances that could stimulate tissue regeneration as does caloric restriction.