Fasting checks intestinal inflammation, says study

Hyderabad (India): Fasting is generally regarded as being good for health. But for the first time, a group of researchers, including from the University of Hyderabad, unravelled the mechanism behind the body’s ability to adapt to nutrient scarcity and thereby control inflammation of the intestines.The study was published in the latest issue of the internationally-renowned research journal, Nature. The research team was headed by Dr Bali Pulendran from Emory University , Atlanta, USA. The team worked in collaboration with Dr Nooruddin Khan, assistant professor in the department of biotechnology and bioinformatics, UoH.

The path-breaking study revealed the mechanism behind the body’s ability to adapt to nutrient scarcity . It found that limiting nutrients could boost vaccine-induced immunity and protect against intestinal inflammation. “Fasting is practised in many religions and traditions to bring caloric restrictions. However, complete understanding about how calorie restriction benefits our health system has been unknown so far,“ said Dr Niyaz Ahmed, chair of the biotechnology and bioinformatics, School of Life Sciences, UoH. Earlier, while studying immune responses to the yellow fever vaccine (one of the most effec tive in history), through genome-wide “systems biology“ approaches, these authors identified a gene whose activation in key immune cells was found to be a sign of a robust, protective immune response. The gene identified was GCN2, a metabolic sensor involved in sensing amino acid starvation and was found to regulate the process of autophagy , a response to starvation or stress within cells.

Dr Khan’s laboratory at t UoH has been using these molecules as an adjuvant to engineer vaccines against infections such as HIV , tuberculosis, and dengue. Dr Pulendran in collaboration with Dr Khan has shown that low protein diet or drugs that mimic its effects on immune cells could be tools for the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.

The result could also have implications for rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis. The researchers have shown that responses of Th17 immune cells, which are important in several autoimmune diseases, are controlled by GCN2. The UoH team is attempting to dig deeper into the biology of nutrient sensing and its immunological regulations during infectious diseases such as TB, dengue, and HIV . It is also involved in research for the development of therapeutic interventions against metabolic diseases such as diabetes, and irritable bowel diseases.

-from Times Of India

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