Dehydroascorbate transport in human chondrocytes is regulated by hypoxia and is a physiologically relevant source of ascorbic acid in the joint

Arthritis Rheum. 2005 Sep;52(9):2676-85. doi: 10.1002/art.21254.


Objective: To evaluate the dehydroascorbate (DHA) transport mechanisms in human chondrocytes.

Methods: The transport of L-(14)C-DHA in human chondrocytes was analyzed under various conditions, including the use of RNA interference (RNAi), to determine the role of glucose transporter 1 (GLUT-1) and GLUT-3 in L-14C-DHA transport and to evaluate the effects of physiologically relevant oxygen tensions on L-14C-DHA transport. In order to estimate the contributions of reduced ascorbic acid (AA) and DHA to intracellular ascorbic acid (Asc), the quantities of AA and DHA were measured in synovial fluid samples from osteoarthritis (OA) patients and compared with the reported levels in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients.

Results: DHA transport in human chondrocytes was glucose-sensitive, temperature-dependent, cytochalasin B-inhibitable, modestly stereoselective for L-DHA, and up-regulated by low oxygen tension. Based on the RNAi results, GLUT-1 mediated, at least in part, the uptake of DHA, whereas GLUT-3 had a minimal effect on DHA transport. DHA constituted a mean 8% of the total Asc in the synovial fluid of OA joints, in contrast to 80% of the reported total Asc in RA joints.

Conclusion: We provide the first evidence that chondrocytes transport DHA via the GLUTs and that this transport mechanism is modestly selective for L-DHA. In the setting of up-regulated DHA transport at low oxygen tensions, DHA would contribute 26% of the total intracellular Asc in OA chondrocytes and 94% of that in RA chondrocytes. These results demonstrate that DHA is a physiologically relevant source of Asc for chondrocytes, particularly in the setting of an inflammatory arthritis, such as RA.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / metabolism*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / pathology
  • Ascorbic Acid / metabolism
  • Biological Transport / drug effects
  • Cartilage, Articular / cytology
  • Cartilage, Articular / metabolism*
  • Cell Hypoxia / drug effects
  • Cell Hypoxia / physiology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chondrocytes / drug effects
  • Chondrocytes / metabolism*
  • Chondrocytes / pathology
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Dehydroascorbic Acid / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression
  • Knee Joint / metabolism*
  • Knee Joint / pathology
  • Monosaccharide Transport Proteins / metabolism
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / metabolism*
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / pathology
  • RNA Interference
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • RNA, Small Interfering / pharmacology
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Up-Regulation


  • Monosaccharide Transport Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Ascorbic Acid
  • Dehydroascorbic Acid