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Sci Rep. 2019 Mar 20;9(1):4702. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-41229-7.

Vitamin C deficiency causes muscle atrophy and a deterioration in physical performance.

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Molecular Regulation of Aging, Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology, Tokyo, 173-0015, Japan.
Cellular Genetics, Graduate School of Science and Engineering, Tokyo Metropolitan University, Tokyo, 192-0397, Japan.
Department of Biomolecular Science, Faculty of Science, Toho University, Chiba, 274-8510, Japan.
Graduate School of Health and Sports Science, Juntendo University, Chiba, 270-1695, Japan.
Molecular Regulation of Aging, Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology, Tokyo, 173-0015, Japan.


L-Ascorbic acid (AsA) is a water-soluble antioxidant. We examined the effect of AsA deficiency on skeletal muscle using senescence marker protein-30 (SMP30)-knockout (KO) mice that are defective in AsA biosynthesis, which makes this mouse model similar to humans, to clarify the function of AsA in skeletal muscle. Eight-week-old female SMP30-KO mice were divided into the following two groups: an AsA-sufficient group [AsA(+)] that was administered 1.5 g/L AsA and an AsA-deficient group [AsA(-)] that was administered tap (AsA-free) water. At 4 weeks, the AsA content in the gastrocnemius muscle of AsA(-) mice was 0.7% compared to that in the gastrocnemius muscle of AsA(+) mice. Significantly lower weights of all muscles were observed in AsA(-) mice than those in AsA(+) mice at 12 and 16 weeks. The cross-sectional area of the soleus was significantly smaller in AsA(-) mice at 16 weeks than that in AsA(+) mice. The physical performance of AsA(-) mice was significantly less than that of AsA(+) mice at 12 weeks. Following AsA deficiency for 12 weeks, the expression of ubiquitin ligases, such as atrogin1/muscle atrophy F-box (MAFbx) and muscle RING-finger protein 1 (MuRF1), was upregulated. Furthermore, all detected effects of AsA deficiency on muscles of the AsA(-) group at 12 weeks were restored following AsA supplementation for 12 weeks. Thus, longer-term AsA deficiency is associated with muscle wasting, that this can be reversed by restoring AsA levels.

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