Vitamin A Could Be a Key To Understanding Cancer Healing, Study Shows

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Vitamin A may be pivotal in understanding wound healing and tumor growth. Skin stem cells aid wound healing, with some originally promoting hair growth transforming into epidermal stem cells during urgent healing. They adopt a flexible state, expressing specific transcription factors to facilitate this transformation and support local repair efforts.

Lineage plasticity pivotal in cancer treatment

Researchers at Rockefeller University have discovered that retinoic acid, a form of vitamin A, could play a crucial role in addressing lineage plasticity in stem cells. Lineage plasticity, a state where stem cells are less effective until they commit to a specific direction, has been a challenge in research.

Lineage plasticity, observed in wound healing and cancer, is a natural response. Skin injuries such as scrapes are ideal for studying this due to constant wear and tear. When the epidermis is damaged, hair follicle stem cells aid in repair. Lead author Matthew Tierney, said that he research seeks to explore lineage plasticity further due to its dual nature.

Redirecting stem cells to areas of tissue in need is crucial for the healing process. However, if unregulated, it can lead to chronic repair and increase cancer risk.

Vitamin A helps stem cells in becoming epidermal or hair cells

Fuchs and her team conducted research on mouse hair follicle stem cells in simulated wound conditions. They found that vitamin A played a crucial role in guiding stem cells towards becoming either hair cells or epidermal cells, resolving lineage plasticity. This discovery sheds light on a new function of vitamin A in skin biology, which was previously unknown.

The study discovered that retinoic acid plays a crucial role in regulating stem cell response to hair growth and skin injury in mice, through genetic, dietary, and topical interventions. However, retinoids work in conjunction with signaling molecules like BMP and WNT to determine whether stem cells stimulate hair regrowth or remain inactive. Moreover, the research highlighted that optimal levels of retinoic acid are necessary for hair follicle stem cells to aid in wound healing, as excessively high or low levels can hinder their ability to contribute effectively.

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