Vitamin C enters mouse T cells as dehydroascorbic acid in vitro and does not recapitulate in vivo vitamin C effects

ArticleinImmunobiology 214(4):311-20 · February 2009with19 Reads
Impact Factor: 3.04 · DOI: 10.1016/j.imbio.2008.09.003 · Source: PubMed


    Vitamin C is an essential micronutrient, which has been implicated in various biological processes, including immune response. In fact, in vivo administration of vitamin C modulates T cell proliferation and cytokine secretion. In this study, we analyzed the mechanism by which mouse T cells take up vitamin C, and whether this uptake directly affected T cell functions. T cells internalized more vitamin C when they were activated, due to enhanced glucose transporter (GLUT)-1 and GLUT-3 expression that persisted up to 48 h after activation. Blocking oxidation of ascorbic acid (the reduced form of vitamin C) in the culture medium with 1,4-dithio-threitol (DTT) almost completely inhibited the enhanced vitamin C uptake. The presence of vitamin C at low concentrations during in vitro T cell activation did not affect proliferation or cytokine secretion (IFN-gamma, TNF-alpha, or IL-4) in response to PMA/ionomycin. In contrast, high concentrations (0.25-0.5 mM) of vitamin C lowered cell viability, reduced thymidine uptake, and decreased cytokine secretion. In conclusion, activated T cells upregulated GLUT-1 and -3 to increase vitamin C uptake. They took up vitamin C mostly in its oxidized form, rarely in its reduced form. Application of vitamin C to T cells in vitro did not recapitulate previously reported in vivo responses to vitamin C, suggesting that in vivo, vitamin C modulates T cells indirectly through other components of the microenvironment.