Vitamin C Research Hints at New Treatment of Respiratory Disorders
CA, 18 March 2004
Source: Children's Hospital & Research Center at Oakland
at Children's Hospital & Research Center at Oakland have found that
Vitamin C plays an important role in normal airway function, may
prevent symptoms associated with airway diseases such as cystic
fibrosis and asthma, and may even help alleviate the dry cough suffered
by smokers. The findings of the Children's researchers are a first
step toward evaluation of vitamin C as a drug candidate and therapeutic
agent in the complementary treatment of asthma, cystic fibrosis
and chronic obstructive lung disease.
the study, published in the first March issue of the Proceedings
of the National Academy of Sciences, the Children's researchers
found that low levels of vitamin C may play a role in the progression
of common inflammatory airway diseases. Inflammatory airway diseases
obstruct breathing and can literally leave patients gasping for
researcher Beate Illek, PhD, and her team -- Horst Fischer, PhD,
and Christian Schwarzer, PhDdiscovered that vitamin C supports
the normal hydration of airway surfaces, while vitamin C deficiency
may lead to dry, sticky mucus membranes lining the airway.
the airway is not sufficiently hydrated, it becomes susceptible
to infections, which may eventually cause asthma attacks in asthmatics,"
said Illek. "Increased intake of vitamin C may loosen those sticky
airway secretions and improve clearance in the respiratory tract.
Vitamin C may prove to be an effective, safe and low-cost treatment
to improve current therapies, including bronchodilators, anti-inflammatory
medications and antibiotics."
the two-year study, funded in part by The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation,
vitamin C was tested on the function of a cell protein called the
cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR). A cystic
fibrosis model also was used to examine the role of vitamin C on
abnormal CFTR. The findings of cellular testing were confirmed by
instilling vitamin C into the nasal passages of healthy human subjects.
The results suggest that supplemental Vitamin C may improve airway
symptoms, pending further clinical trials.
survey by the US Department of Health and Human Services revealed
a link between fruit consumption, vitamin C intake, and the risk
of asthma. Vitamin C is present in a healthy plant-based diet and
is widely used as a dietary supplement. However, approximately 25
percent of the US population falls below the recommended dietary
intake level for vitamin C, and deficiencies of vitamin C have been
reported in the airways of asthmatic patients. In California alone,
1.8 million people suffer with asthma including half a million children.
Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease affecting approximately 30,000
people in the United States. About 1,000 new cases of cystic fibrosis
are diagnosed each year.
Hospital & Research Center at Oakland (www.childrenshospitaloakland.org).