The role of a single protein
In the study called ‘Transcription factor ISX mediates the cross talk between diet and immunity’, the researchers found that a major factor in the metabolic pathway of vitamin A is a single protein known as ISX. By examining mice that were genetically altered to lack ISX, the research team found that the single protein helps the body maintain a proper balance between beta-carotene and inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. “Vitamin A exists in the diet as beta-carotene, which is enzymatically converted by cells lining the intestine. The content of beta-carotene in natural foods is variable and subject to seasonal fluctuations,” said Ni Made Airanthi (Ila) Widjaja-Adhi, lead author of the study and Marcin Golczak, co-author of the study. “We describe in this study a mechanism for coping with this fluctuation, to maintain immunity at the intestinal barrier,” added Widjaja-Adhi.