Vitamin C prevents cigarette smoke-induced oxidative damage in vivo

Free Radic Biol Med. 2000 Jul 15;29(2):115-24. doi: 10.1016/s0891-5849(00)00297-5.


Our recent in vitro results [4] indicate that cigarette smoke induces oxidation of human plasma proteins and extensive oxidative degradation of the guinea pig lung, heart, and liver microsomal proteins, which is almost completely prevented by ascorbic acid. In this paper, we substantiate the in vitro results with in vivo observations. We demonstrate that exposure of subclinical or marginal vitamin C-deficient guinea pigs to cigarette smoke causes oxidation of plasma proteins as well as extensive oxidative degradation of the lung microsomal proteins. Cigarette smoke exposure also results in some discernible damage of the heart microsomal proteins. The oxidative damage has been manifested by SDS-PAGE, accumulation of carbonyl and bityrosine, as well as loss of tryptophan and protein thiols. Cigarette smoke exposure also induces peroxidation of microsomal lipids as evidenced by the formation of conjugated dienes, malondialdehyde, and fluorescent pigment. Cigarette smoke-induced oxidative damage of proteins and peroxidation of lipids are accompanied by marked drop in the tissue ascorbate levels. Protein damage and lipid peroxidation are also observed in cigarette smoke-exposed pair-fed guinea pigs receiving 5 mg vitamin C/animal/day. However, complete protection against protein damage and lipid peroxidation occurs when the guinea pigs are fed 15 mg vitamin C/animal/day. Also, the cigarette smoke-induced oxidative damage of proteins and lipid is reversed after discontinuation of cigarette smoke exposure accompanied by ascorbate therapy. The results, if extrapolated to humans, indicate that comparatively large doses of vitamin C may protect the smokers from cigarette smoke-induced oxidative damage and associated degenerative diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Ascorbic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Ascorbic Acid / pharmacology*
  • Ascorbic Acid Deficiency / physiopathology
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Humans
  • Lung / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Microsomes / drug effects
  • Microsomes / metabolism
  • Myocardium / metabolism
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology*
  • Proteins / chemistry
  • Proteins / isolation & purification
  • Proteins / metabolism*
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / adverse effects


  • Proteins
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution
  • Ascorbic Acid