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Biol Reprod. 1995 Feb;52(2):262-6.

Ascorbic acid and fertility.

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Department of Physiology & Environmental Science, University of Nottingham, Leicestershire, United Kingdom.


Ascorbic acid has long been associated with fertility, but no consistent study of its mechanism of action in reproductive tissues has been made. This article considers how three of ascorbic acid's principal functions, namely its promotion of collagen synthesis, its role in hormone production, and its ability to protect cells from free radicals, may explain its reproductive actions. Data relating to both ovary and testis are reviewed since ascorbate accumulates in both tissues. Both gonads exhibit cycles of tissue remodeling and of peptide and steroid secretion that can be assumed to be ascorbate-dependent. Ascorbic acid may also prevent gametes from damage by free radicals during production and fertilization. Preliminary data on the concentrations of ascorbic acid in serum and follicular fluid from women undergoing in vitro fertilization are presented. They suggest that the supply of ascorbic acid to the ovary might be a limiting factor in the ability of the preovulatory follicle to grow in response to gonadotropin stimulation. It is concluded that ascorbic acid is a key compound in gonadal physiology on which further research is needed and that a reappraisal of its potential clinical value in the treatment of various types of male and female infertility would be timely.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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