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Pharmacological Action Of Vitamin C On Cancer
- Dec 29, 2020 -

April 2017 Medical Journal 《Cancer cell》 published a study on vitamin C (also known as ascorbate), results shows that, pharmacological ascorbate has been proposed as a potential anti-cancer agent when combined with radiation and chemotherapy. The anti-cancer effects of ascorbate are hypothesized to involve the autoxidation of ascorbate leading to increased steady-state levels of H2O2; however, the mechanism(s) for cancer cell-selective toxicity remain unknown.

The current study shows that alterations in cancer cell mitochondrial oxidative metabolism resulting in increased levels of O2⋅− and H2O2 are capable of disrupting intracellular iron metabolism, thereby selectively sensitizing non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and glioblastoma (GBM) cells to ascorbate through pro-oxidant chemistry involving redox-active labile iron and H2O2. In addition, preclinical studies and clinical trials demonstrate the feasibility, selective toxicity, tolerability, and potential efficacy of pharmacological ascorbate in GBM and NSCLC therapy.

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Despite advances in treatment strategies, 5-year overall survival in NSCLC and GBM has not significantly increased over the last 20 years. Here, we demonstrate that pharmacological ascorbate represents an easily implementable and non-toxic agent that may increase treatment efficacy when combined with standard-of-care radio-chemotherapy in NSCLC and GBM. Furthermore, the mechanism by which ascorbate is selectively toxic to cancer cells versus normal cells is shown to involve alterations in redox-active iron metabolism mediated by mitochondrial O2⋅− and H2O2. As fundamental defects in oxidative metabolism leading to increased steady-state levels of O2⋅− and H2O2 emerge as targetable hallmarks of cancer cells, the current findings support a generalized mechanism for the application of pharmacological ascorbate (Vitamin C) in cancer therapy.


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