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Guinea pig ascorbate status predicts tetrahydrobiopterin plasma concentration and oxidation ratio in vivo

Mortensen, Alan, Hasselholt, Stine, Tveden-Nyborg, Pernille, Lykkesfeldt, Jens
Nutrition research 2013 v.33 no.10 pp. 859-867
ascorbic acid, ascorbic acid deficiency, blood, correlation, dehydroascorbic acid, diet, elderly, euthanasia, guinea pigs, heart, high performance liquid chromatography, humans, ingestion, models, nitric oxide, nitric oxide synthase, oxidation, vasodilation
Tetrahydrobiopterin (BH₄) is an essential co-factor of nitric oxide synthases and is easily oxidized to dihydrobiopterin (BH₂) which promotes endothelial nitric oxide synthase uncoupling and deleterious superoxide production. Vitamin C has been shown to improve endothelial function by different mechanisms, some involving BH₄. The hypothesis of the present study was that vitamin C status, in particular low levels, influences biopterin redox status in vivo. Like humans, the guinea pig lacks the ability to synthesize vitamin C and was therefore used as model. Seven day old animals (n = 10/group) were given a diet containing 100, 250, 500, 750, 1000, or 1500 ppm vitamin C until euthanasia at age 60–64 days. Blood samples were drawn from the heart and analyzed for ascorbate, dehydroascorbic acid (DHA), BH₄ and BH₂ by high-performance liquid chromatography. Plasma BH₄ levels were found to be significantly lower in animals fed 100 ppm vitamin C compared to all other groups (P < .05 or less). BH₂ levels were not significantly different between groups but the BH₂-to-BH₄ ratio was higher in the group fed 100 ppm vitamin C (P < .001 all cases). Significant positive correlations between BH₄ and ascorbate and between BH₂-to-BH₄ ratio and DHA were observed (P < .0001 both cases). Likewise, BH₂-to-BH₄ ratio was negatively correlated with ascorbate (P < .0001) as was BH₄ and DHA (P < .005). In conclusion, the redox status of plasma biopterins, essentially involved in vasodilation, depends on the vitamin C status in vivo. Thus, ingestion of insufficient quantities of vitamin C not only leads to vitamin C deficiency but also to increased BH₄ oxidation which may promote endothelial dysfunction.