Researchers reveal vitamin C breakthrough

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Updated Friday, August 20, 2010 11:04 am TWN, The China Post news staff

Researchers reveal vitamin C breakthrough

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The Academia Sinica yesterday reported a scientific breakthrough with an experiment that solves the mystery of the mitochondrial transport of vitamin C, the results of which give hope in preventing the onset of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

The research team, led by Director Chen Yuan-tsong of the Institute of Biomedical Sciences at Academia Sinica and postdoctoral researcher Chen Yi-ching, identified a protein that transports vitamin C to muscle cells of the body to help repair damage and protect against deterioration.

The important findings provide a better understanding of an inherited connective tissue disorder called arterial tortuosity syndrome. The full-length research papers of the study were published online in the scientific journal “Human Molecular Genetics” on July 24.

“Faculty of 1000 Biology” the online research service and expert guide in advances in biology singled out the Academia Sinica study as a “must-read.”

Lee said the oxidation of cells is directly related to the degeneration of human health. Vitamin C helps combat and prevent the damages of oxidation, yet the mechanics by which it enters the cells and repair damage had been largely unknown.

The study’s findings help answer long-standing questions regarding the mitochondrial transportation of vitamin C and how it protects against oxidative injury. The mitochondrion is often known as the “cellular power plant” which supplies energy to eukaryotic cells and controls cell cycle and growth.

Vitamin C is taken up and recycled in mitochondria. However, the mitochondrial transport and functions of vitamin C had been poorly understood until the research team identified a carrier protein called GLUT 10.

The protein is found predominantly in the mitochondria of smooth muscle cells and insulin-stimulated fat cells. Lee describes GLUT 10 as the “expressway” for transporting DHA into the cytoplasm of the mitochondrion.

The DHA is the transportable, oxidized form of vitamin C. Through the GLUT 10 carrier, it is transported to mitochondria and the protein helps increase their uptake, which in turn strengthens the cells’ ability to use vitamin C to combat degeneration and repair damage.

These findings help explain the mystery of vitamin C transport and functions in mitochondria. It also revealed that abnormalities in the GLUT 10 protein correlates to those found in arterial tortuosity syndrome, the researchers said.

The results also provide new insights into the relationship between GLUT 10 and type 2 diabetes and reinforce the importance of vitamin C in fighting degenerative diseases.
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