Epithelium Expands and Shrinks as per Food Eaten, says Study

According to a new report by the University of Illinois, the epithelium which is nothing with the lining of the intestine not only absorbs nutrients from the food that we eat but also grows shrinks and adjusts its cells as per the food that we eat. According to researchers, detailed understanding of this process will give a better understanding of cancer cells behavior. Diet actually affects the process of growth and renewal of the intestinal cells.

Therefore, it is possible to feed the stem cells in order to develop tissues of different sizes. Most importantly we can stop a tissue which is multiplying, from growing. The ability to respond to food by the intestinal lining depends on tiny crypts along the epithelium. Therefore, when we eat a lot, tissues will grow but when we eat less it will shrink back. This leads to the question how do stem cells know when to grow and when to stop growing? What is that signal?

According to Megan Dailey, Assistant Professor in the Department of Animal Sciences at the University of Illinois, stem cells are always working towards replacing cells which are lost on account of normal wear and tear in the intestine. Most of the stem cells in an adult are focused on renewal process rather than growth. Megan and her team isolated stem cells from intestinal epithelial groups in mines and exposed them to different levels of glucose signifying low to high sugar diet. The researchers wanted to know if the availability of glucose shifts the cells from renewal to growth mode. They were proven right. On high availability of glucose, the cells went to growth mode.

Apart from cancer application this research offers basic answers and understanding towards stem cells work which could lead to further research.