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Br J Nutr. 2005 Apr;93(4):501-7.

Vitamin C status and collagen cross-link ratios in Gambian children.

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MRC Human Nutrition Research, Elsie Widdowson Laboratory, Fulbourn Road, Cambridge CB1 9NL, UK.


Vitamin C (ascorbate) is essential for hydroxylation of prolyl and lysyl residues in nascent collagen, the failure of which leads to connective tissue lesions of scurvy. Of the pyridinium-type cross-links in mature collagen, pyridinoline requires more hydroxylysyl residues than does deoxypyridinoline. Our study tested the hypothesis that pyridinoline:deoxypyridinoline ratios in urinary degradation products may vary with ascorbate status in man. These ratios were compared between British and Gambian prepubertal boys, mean age 8.3 years, and in Gambian boys between two seasons with contrasting ascorbate availability. The mean cross-links ratio in 216 British boys was 4.36 (SD 0.71), significantly greater (P<0.0001) than in sixty-two Gambian boys: 3.83 (SD 0.52). In the Gambians the cross-links ratio was significantly higher in the dry season (with high ascorbate intake and status) than in the rains (with low intake and status). A 7-week controlled intervention was carried out in Gambian boys during the rainy season (the 'hungry' season, when vitamin C-containing foods are virtually unavailable): 100 mg ascorbate/d was given to one group of thirty-two Gambian boys and placebo to another group. The intervention did not, however, significantly alter the cross-link ratio, possibly because the response time and/or intervention-response delay is >7 weeks. If confirmed, the putative association between ascorbate and collagen cross-link ratios in man could become the basis for a functional test for adequacy of ascorbate status.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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