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Arch Biochem Biophys. 2010 Aug 15;500(2):107-15. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2010 May 28.

Cellular pathways for transport and efflux of ascorbate and dehydroascorbate.

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Dipartimento di Patologia Sperimentale, Università di Pisa, Italy.


The mechanisms allowing the cellular transport of ascorbic acid represent a primary aspect for the understanding of the roles played by this vitamin in pathophysiology. Considerable research effort has been spent in the field, on several animal models and different cell types. Several mechanisms have been described to date, mediating the movements of different redox forms of ascorbic acid across cell membranes. Vitamin C can enter cells both in its reduced and oxidized form, ascorbic acid (AA) and dehydroascorbate (DHA), utilizing respectively sodium-dependent transporters (SVCT) or glucose transporters (GLUT). Modulation of SVCT expression and function has been described by cytokines, steroids and post-translational protein modification. Cellular uptake of DHA is followed by its intracellular reduction to AA by several enzymatic and non-enzymatic systems. Efflux of vitamin C has been also described in a number of cell types and different pathophysiological functions were proposed for this phenomenon, in dependence of the cell model studied. Cellular efflux of AA is mediated through volume-sensitive (VSOAC) and Ca(2+)-dependent anion channels, gap-junction hemichannels, exocytosis of secretory vesicles and possibly through homo- and hetero-exchange systems at the plasma membrane level. Altogether, available data suggest that cellular efflux of ascorbic acid - besides its uptake - should be taken into account when evaluating the cellular homeostasis and functions of this important vitamin.

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