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Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2004 Jun;286(6):H2353-60. Epub 2004 Feb 19.

Antioxidant-independent ascorbate enhancement of catecholamine-induced contractions of vascular smooth muscle.

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Dept. of Physiology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA.


Ascorbate reduces the oxidation rate of catecholamines and, by an independent mechanism, enhances rabbit aortic ring contractions initiated by catecholamines. The largest significantly different fractional increases in force produced by ascorbate enhancement of norepinephrine (NE), epinephrine, phenylpropanolamine (PPA), and ephedrine (Eph) are 5.5, 1.8, 1.6, and 1.3 times, respectively. In physiological salt solutions bubbled with 95% O(2) at 37 degrees C, NE, PPA, and Eph have oxidation rate constants of 1.24, 247, and 643 h, respectively. Ascorbate significantly enhances 100 nM NE contractions by at least twofold at all ascorbate concentrations >15 microM, including the entire physiological range of 40-100 microM. Ascorbate preloading and washout followed by NE exposure produces significantly greater contractions than NE without ascorbate preloading but significantly lower than NE simultaneously with ascorbate. Ascorbate does not enhance K(+)- or angiotensin II-induced contractions. Ascorbate enhancement of catecholamine contractions occurs in addition to the reduction in oxidation rate, because the increases in force occur faster than oxidation can occur, the increases occur with compounds that have negligible oxidation rates, and the increases occur when ascorbate and NE are not physically present together. These results are consistent with ascorbate acting on the adrenergic receptor. Ascorbate may play a role in shock and asthma treatments and potentiate the cardiovascular health consequences of PPA and Eph (Ephedra).

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