Ascorbate regulation and its neuroprotective role in the brain

Trends Neurosci. 2000 May;23(5):209-16. doi: 10.1016/s0166-2236(99)01543-x.


Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) occurs physiologically as the ascorbate anion: a water-soluble antioxidant that is found throughout the body. However, despite the high, homeostatically regulated levels of brain ascorbate, its specific functions in the CNS are only beginning to be elucidated. Certainly, it acts as part of the intracellular antioxidant network, and as such is normally neuroprotective. There is also evidence that it acts as a neuromodulator. A possibly unique role it might have is as an antioxidant in the brain extracellular microenvironment, where its concentration is modulated by glutamate-ascorbate heteroexchange at glutamate uptake sites. Ongoing studies of ascorbate and glutamate transporters should lead to rapid progress in understanding ascorbate regulation and function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / metabolism*
  • Ascorbic Acid / metabolism*
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Glutamic Acid / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Neuroprotective Agents / metabolism*


  • Antioxidants
  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Ascorbic Acid