Washington: A new study has revealed that the stomach naturally produces more stem cells than previously realized, likely for repair of injuries from infections, digestive fluids and the foods we eat.
Scientists from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and Utrecht Medical Center in the Netherlands report in the new study that a class of specialized cells in the stomach reverts to stem cells more often than they thought.
"We already knew that these cells, which are called chief cells, can change back into stem cells to make temporary repairs in significant stomach injuries, such as a cut or damage from infection," Jason Mills, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine at Washington University said.
The researcher said that the fact that they're making this transition more often, even in the absence of noticeable injuries, suggests that it may be easier than we realized to make some types of mature, specialized adult cells revert to stem cells.
In the new report, Mills, graduate student Greg Sibbel and Hans Clevers, MD, PhD, a geneticist at Utrecht Medical Centre, identified markers that show a small number of chief cells become stem cells even in the absence of serious injury.
If a significant injury is introduced in cell cultures or in animal models, more chief cells become stem cells, making it possible to fix the damage.
The study is published in journal Cell.