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Nature. 1993 Jul 1;364(6432):79-82.

Mammalian facilitative hexose transporters mediate the transport of dehydroascorbic acid.

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Program in Molecular Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York 10021.


Although vitamin C is critical to human physiology, it is not clear how it is taken up into cells. The kinetics of cell and tissue accumulation of ascorbic acid in vitro indicate that the process is mediated by specific transporters at the cell membrane. Some experimental observations have linked the transport of ascorbic acid with hexose transport systems in mammalian cells, although no clear information is available regarding the specific role(s) of these transporters, if any, in this process. Here we use the Xenopus laevis oocyte expression system to show that the mammalian facilitative hexose transporters are efficient transporters of the oxidized form of vitamin C (dehydroascorbic acid). Two transport pathways, one with low affinity and one with high affinity for dehydroascorbic acid, were found in oocytes expressing the mammalian transporters, and these oocytes accumulated vitamin C against a concentration gradient when supplied with dehydroascorbic acid. We obtained similar results in experiments using normal human neutrophils. These observations indicate that mammalian facilitative hexose transporters are a physiologically significant pathway for the uptake and accumulation of vitamin C by cells, and suggest a mechanism for the accumulation of ascorbic acid against a concentration gradient.

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