July 23, 2024

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Vitamin B12 Aids in Cell Reprogramming for Tissue Healing and Fighting Chronic Diseases

Vitamin B12 Aids in Cell Reprogramming for Tissue Healing and Fighting Chronic Diseases

Vitamin B12 Aids in Cell Reprogramming for Tissue Healing and Fighting Chronic Diseases

It is well-known that vitamin B12 contributes to the formation of red blood cells and promotes DNA synthesis, thereby protecting genes within cells from mutations.

It is also crucial for the development and sustained functionality of the brain and nerve cells. Now, scientists have discovered a crucial role for this micronutrient in cell reprogramming and tissue regeneration.

Researchers from the Barcelona Institute for Research in Biomedicine made this breakthrough observation while studying how a significant amount of vitamin B12 is required for the cell reprogramming process in mice.

Vitamin B12 Aids in Cell Reprogramming for Tissue Healing and Fighting Chronic Diseases

Normal pancreatic cells (left) are reprogrammed under the influence of B12 (right) Photo/Barcelona International Research Institute

The research team subsequently confirmed their findings in another mouse model, this time focusing on animals with ulcerative colitis, a chronic inflammatory bowel disease caused by misguided immune responses leading to damage in the inner lining of the colon. Mice supplemented with vitamin B12 saw intestinal cells undergo a process similar to cell reprogramming when initiating the repair of gastric mucosa.

This suggests that vitamin B12 can help alleviate symptoms caused by intestinal diseases.

“Our research has uncovered the key role of vitamin B12 in cell reprogramming and tissue repair,” said Manuel Serrano from the Barcelona Institute for Research in Biomedicine. “These findings bring hope to regenerative medicine, suggesting that patients could benefit from improvements in nutrition.”

The researchers specifically focused on cell reprogramming, where cells lose their specific identity and gain “embryonic pluripotency.” Essentially, this means that these cells can develop into specific types of cells depending on different transcription factors.

However, before they are given a new identity, there is an intermediate state that scientists find particularly interesting. During this time, cells gain plasticity and versatility, making them ideal candidates for organ repair, tissue growth, and other types of regenerative medical therapies.

How does this micronutrient integrate into this complex world of cell transformation? To give cells this plasticity, they need vitamin B12 to facilitate the methylation metabolic process. Specifically, as the “brain” behind reprogramming or tissue repair, the DNA of cells requires significant methylation, and thus a supply of vitamin B12.

The researchers found that adding vitamin B12 significantly promotes this process, thereby repairing damaged tissue.

The first author of the study, Marta Kovacheva, stated, “Supplementing vitamin B12 corrects this imbalance, enhancing the fidelity of gene function and overall increasing reprogramming efficiency.”

In another study, Serrano collaborated with scientists from the University of Barcelona and the Clinic Hospital of Barcelona, discovering that vitamin B12 also helps reduce inflammation.

They found that high levels of vitamin B12 have a counteractive effect on the levels of inflammatory markers IL-6 and CRP in the blood. In elderly mice, they observed that vitamin B12 directly lowers these markers, subsequently reducing inflammation in the body.

These two studies open the door to exploring vitamin B12 as a fundamental component in combating chronic diseases and age-related health conditions.

Vitamin B12 is a micronutrient, meaning it can only be obtained through diet (excluding vitamin D). However, the body only requires a small amount of vitamin B12: the recommended daily intake for males and females aged 14 and above is 2.5 micrograms, slightly higher for pregnant women (2.6 micrograms) and lactating women (2.8 micrograms).

It is commonly absorbed through the consumption of fish, liver, red meat, eggs, poultry, as well as dairy products such as milk and cheese. Additionally, it can be found in fortified cereal breakfasts, plant-based milk and meat substitutes, nutritional yeast, yeast extract products, and mushrooms.

The most common health issue associated with low vitamin B12 levels is vitamin B12 deficiency anemia, caused by a shortage of red blood cells and resulting in symptoms such as muscle weakness, nausea, fatigue, and an increased heart rate. Some medications, genetic conditions, and diseases can also inhibit the absorption of vitamin B12.

This research was published in the journal “Nature Metabolism.”

Vitamin B12 Aids in Cell Reprogramming for Tissue Healing and Fighting Chronic Diseases

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