Scientists discover that natural stem cell proliferation is governed by a stable autonomic nervous system. This could have serious implications for the increased importance of heart rate variability as a method for healing the body by controlling the ANS.
Research was conducted at the University of Illinois College Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences and published in the journal Physiological Reports.
Natural somatic stem cells are known to be a major contributing factor in how body heals itself over time.
“If we could find a way to target and control stem cell proliferation in the body, there could be potential medical benefits, including turning off the proliferation of cancer stem cells or inducing proliferation of somatic stem cells where we want to grow tissue,” says Elizabeth Davis, doctoral researcher in the Neuroscience Program at U of I and lead author of a stu
Our autonomic nervous system is responsible for the bodies most automatic processes such as breathing, blood flow, digestion etc. However, better control over the autonomic nervous system can be developed through training a subject in heart rate variability.
The ANS is governed by two neural networks that reach all the way from the brain through the central nervous system and towards every organ in the body. ANS neurons prepare the body for certain situations by ejecting neurotransmitters in to the surrounding tissue.
Scientists conducted a study of stem cells from the intestinal tract of mice and found receptors for two neurotransmitters responsible for activation of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems respectively. Indicating a direct relationship between the ANS and stem cell behavior.
In order to test this theory they grew intestinal stem cell samples in a lab and exposed them to high levels of each neurotransmitter – rorepinephrine which provokes a sympathetic fight/flight response and acetylcholine for the parasympathetic rest/digest response. They found that both of these neurotransmitters suppressed stem cell proliferation.
This suggests that our body intelligent re-routes energy from stem cell powered regeneration to survival during sympathetic activation and ejection of norepinephrine. While on the other end of the spectrum – preventing stem cells from being destroyed by free radicals during rest and digest. An interesting balanced approach that explains the benefits of fasting as a strategy for reaching this kind of equilibrium where you’re not digesting or under any kind of immediate threat.
The next step to confirming their research involves testing norepinephrine and acetylcholine on other stem cells originating from different parts of the body in order to prove that this is a global phenomena rather than being restricted to the intestinal tract. Let that not de-value their findings however, our gut microbiome has been proven vital to pretty much every aspect of health, and intestinal stem cells are an important piece of that puzzle.
Consequences could highlight the increasing importance of heart rate variability as a method for learning better control over the ANS in order to direct the healing process and prevent more serious medical intervention.