Viamins A and C Help Wipe Out Cell "Memory"

First Posted: Oct 15, 2016 06:00 AM EDT

Growing up, you have probably been asked to take vitamin A and C supplements because they're known to be "good" for your health. However, a new research, led by Babraham Institute, claims that these two vitamins complement each other in getting rid of "memory" connected with DNA, which is an important effect of improving technologies pointed toward regenerative medicine and stem cell therapy.

According to Indian Express, scientists found that both vitamins A and C complement each other in deleting "memory" connected with DNA, which is considered important for the improvement of technologies towards regenerative medicine and stem cell therapy. An international team of researchers has found that the two vitamins can improve the success rate in challenging the process of converting adult cells to stem cells.

Researchers conducted the study to analyze the effects of epigenetic modification in cells when a methyl tag is added to the C letters in DNA sequences. UPI reported that the findings of the study were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Basically, experts have already known that a cell's identity can be determined by its DNA sequence. For regenerative medicine, the aim is to be able to produce a cell that can be directed to become other cells like brain cells, heart cells, and lung cells. Cells with such ability are usually found in the early embryo (embryonic stem cells, ESC) and produce many different cell types in the body. In regenerative medicine, researchers coerce adult cells from a patient to go back to having an embryonic-like capacity and to "forget" their past identity.

The research team discovered that vitamin A enhances epigenetic memory erasure in embryonic stem cells, which removes methyl tags called TET, while vitamin C was found to boost the activity of TET enzymes. "Both vitamins A and C act individually to promote demethylation, enhancing the erasure of epigenetic memory required for cell reprogramming," Dr. Ferdinand von Meyenn explained in a press release.

In a report by, scientists have dubbed the study an advantage for regenerative medicine. The study about the effect of vitamin A on TET enzymes may explain why some patients suffering from acute promyelocytic leukemia do not respond to treatment and can open more opportunities for a better approach to the disease. "This research provides an important understanding in order to progress the development of cell treatments for regenerative medicine," Babraham Institue epigenetics program head Wolf Reik said. "It also enhances our understanding of how intrinsic and extrinsic signals shape the epigenome; knowledge that could provide valuable insight into human diseases, such as acute promyelocytic leukemia and other cancers."

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