How Vitamin C Affects Protein Levels in the Liver

Jim Crocker
14th May, 2024

How Vitamin C Affects Protein Levels in the Liver

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • Study at Université Laval shows vitamin C affects liver function at the molecular level
  • Vitamin C deficiency alters liver genes and proteins, impacting processes like fat metabolism
  • Adequate vitamin C intake is crucial for liver health and preventing diseases like NAFLD
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbate, plays a crucial role in the human body as an antioxidant and a helper molecule for various enzymes that are essential for our health. Unlike most mammals, humans cannot synthesize vitamin C due to the lack of an enzyme called gulonolactone oxidase (Gulo). This makes the understanding of vitamin C's functions and requirements in our diet of significant interest to researchers. Recent research from Université Laval has shed new light on the effects of vitamin C on liver function at the molecular level[1]. By using genetically modified mice that, like humans, cannot produce their own vitamin C, scientists have been able to explore how different levels of vitamin C intake affect liver biology. The study involved two groups of these Gulo−/− mice, which were given either sub-optimal or optimal concentrations of ascorbate in their drinking water. After four months, liver tissues from both female and male mice were collected and analyzed using transcriptomics and proteomics approaches. These methods allow scientists to examine the full range of genes and proteins that are active in the liver cells, providing a comprehensive view of how vitamin C influences liver function. To complement the omics studies, the researchers also performed immunoblotting, quantitative RT-PCR, and polysome profiling experiments. These techniques helped to validate and deepen the understanding of the changes observed in the omics data. The findings from this study are important for several reasons. Firstly, they provide insight into how vitamin C deficiency could potentially affect liver health and function. This is particularly relevant given that a significant portion of the population may not be getting enough vitamin C. For example, previous research has shown that about 13% of the US population was vitamin C deficient during the late 1980s and early 1990s[2]. Moreover, this research builds on earlier studies that have explored the genetic factors influencing vitamin C levels in the body. It has been known that polymorphisms in genes encoding vitamin C transport proteins can significantly affect plasma ascorbate levels and tissue status[3]. The current study adds to this knowledge by showing the direct effects of vitamin C on liver gene and protein expression, which could have implications for understanding chronic disease risks associated with vitamin C levels. The study also ties into our understanding of vitamin C’s biosynthesis in vertebrates that do have the capacity to produce it. The pathway from d-glucuronate to ascorbate involves several enzymes and intermediate molecules[4]. The Gulo−/− mice used in the study are a model for organisms that are missing the last step of this synthesis pathway, which is the conversion of l-gulonolactone to ascorbate by Gulo. By examining the differences in liver function between mice with sub-optimal and optimal vitamin C, the research from Université Laval helps to clarify the role of vitamin C not just as a simple nutrient, but as a regulator of a wide array of biological processes. This could eventually inform dietary guidelines and interventions aimed at improving public health, especially for at-risk groups such as smokers and low-income individuals who are more likely to suffer from vitamin C deficiency[2]. In conclusion, the study from Université Laval provides valuable insights into the molecular effects of vitamin C on liver function. It highlights the importance of adequate vitamin C intake for maintaining health and offers a promising avenue for further research into the prevention and management of chronic diseases associated with vitamin C deficiency.



Main Study

1) Combined transcriptomics and proteomics unveil the impact of vitamin C in modulating specific protein abundance in the mouse liver

Published 12th May, 2024

Related Studies

2) Serum vitamin C and the prevalence of vitamin C deficiency in the United States: 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

3) Human genetic variation influences vitamin C homeostasis by altering vitamin C transport and antioxidant enzyme function.

4) Vitamin C. Biosynthesis, recycling and degradation in mammals.

Journal: The FEBS journal, Issue: Vol 274, Issue 1, Jan 2007

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