Vitamins and stem cell amnesia

Vitamins A and C can enhance success in the challenging process of converting adult cells into stem cells. We report that the way these vitamins complement each other to do this is by erasing 'epigenetic memory' associated with DNA, which could help improve technologies geared towards regenerative medicine and stem cell therapy.

HFSP Long-Term Fellow Timothy Hore and colleagues
authored on Tue, 22 November 2016

Interestingly, both vitamins affect the same family of TET enzymes, which actively remove DNA methylation; Vitamin A increases the number of these TET enzymes within the cell, and Vitamin C enhances their activity. When used in combination, they remove epigenetic memory in the form of DNA methylation synergistically, and dramatically improve the rate at which stem cells with naive developmental characteristics can be created.  For the full story see the press releases from the Babraham Institute and the University of Otago.


Retinol and ascorbate drive erasure of epigenetic memory and enhance reprogramming to naïve pluripotency by complementary mechanisms. Timothy Alexander Hore, Ferdinand von Meyenn, Mirunalini Ravichandran, Martin Bachman, Gabriella Ficz, David Oxley, Fátima Santos, Shankar Balasubramanian, Tomasz P. Jurkowski and Wolf Reik. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1608679113. PNAS October 25, 2016 vol. 113 no. 43 12202-12207.

Link to article

Pubmed link