Acute prooxidant effects of vitamin C in EDTA chelation therapy and long-term antioxidant benefits of therapy

Free Radic Biol Med. 2005 Jun 15;38(12):1565-70. doi: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2005.02.016. Epub 2005 Mar 17.


Chelation therapy is thought to not only remove contaminating metals but also to decrease free radical production. EDTA chelation therapy, containing high doses of vitamin C as an antioxidant, is often used in the treatment of diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases but the effectiveness of this treatment may be variable and its efficacy has not been demonstrated conclusively. The objective of this work was to determine if the vitamin C added to standard chelation therapy cocktails was prooxidant. We administered a standard EDTA cocktail solution with or without 5 g of sodium ascorbate. One hour following the standard chelation therapy, there were highly significant prooxidant effects on lipids, proteins, and DNA associated with decreased activities of RBC glutathione peroxidase and superoxide dismutase while in the absence of sodium ascorbate, there were no acute signs of oxidative damage. After 16 sessions of standard chelation therapy, the acute prooxidant effects of vitamin C remained, but, even in the absence of nutrient supplements, there were beneficial long-term antioxidant effects of chelation therapy and plasma peroxide levels decreased. In conclusion, multiple sessions of EDTA chelation therapy protect lipids against oxidative damage. However, standard high amounts of vitamin C added to EDTA chelation solutions also display short term prooxidant effects. The added benefits of lower levels of vitamin C in chelation therapy need to be documented.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Ascorbic Acid / adverse effects
  • Ascorbic Acid / therapeutic use*
  • Chelating Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Chelation Therapy*
  • DNA Damage
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Edetic Acid / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lipid Peroxidation / drug effects
  • Male
  • Malondialdehyde / blood
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Time Factors


  • Antioxidants
  • Chelating Agents
  • Malondialdehyde
  • Edetic Acid
  • Ascorbic Acid