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FASEB J. 1998 Sep;12(12):1183-9.

Age-associated decline in ascorbic acid concentration, recycling, and biosynthesis in rat hepatocytes--reversal with (R)-alpha-lipoic acid supplementation.

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  • 1Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California at Berkeley, 94720, USA.


Ascorbic acid recycling from dehydroascorbic acid and biosynthesis from gulono-1,4-lactone were used as measures of cellular response capacity to increased oxidative stress induced by tert-butylhydroperoxide. The hepatic ascorbic acid concentration was 54% lower in cells from old rats when compared to cells isolated from young rats (P<0.0005). Freshly isolated hepatocytes from old rats exhibited a significantly decreased ascorbic acid recycling capacity in response to oxidative stress (P<0.005) compared to cells from young rats. Ascorbic acid synthesis in these cells from old animals was unaffected by various concentrations of tert-butylhydroperoxide, but amounted to only approximately half of the biosynthetic rate when compared to cells from young animals (P<0.001). Cells from young animals were not significantly affected by the tert-butylhydroperoxide treatments. The results demonstrate a declining ability with age to respond to increased oxidative stress. (R)-alpha-Lipoic acid, a mitochondrial coenzyme, is a powerful antioxidant. A two-week dietary supplementation of old animals with 0.5% (R)-alpha-lipoic acid prior to cell isolation almost completely reversed the age-associated effects on ascorbic acid concentration (P<0.0001), recycling (P<0.05) and biosynthesis after oxidative stress. These results provide further evidence for the potential of alpha-lipoic acid in treatment of diseases related to oxidative stress. Furthermore, the study extends the value of ascorbic acid as a biomarker of oxidative stress.

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