Physiology

Stronger pancreas through starvation

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Science  24 Mar 2017:
Vol. 355, Issue 6331, pp. 1278
DOI: 10.1126/science.355.6331.1278-c

Starvation stresses an animal and can cause tissue loss. Regeneration after refeeding seems to mimic developmental activation of cells and replenishes depleted tissues. Cheng et al. tested the effects on mice of a low-calorie (low in carbohydrates and protein) but high-fat diet that resembles the metabolic effects of fasting but is easier for humans to tolerate. In models of type 1 and type 2 diabetes, mice on this diet showed improved insulin secretion and glucose homeostasis. The diet promoted signaling and transcriptional changes reminiscent of those that occur during the development of pancreatic endocrine cells. The findings raise the possibility of reprogramming endogenous cells in the pancreas to restore function lost in diabetes.

Cell 10.1016/j.cell.2017.01.040 (2017).

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