Purpose: To investigate the mechanism of L-ascorbic acid uptake by rabbit corneal epithelial cells and to functionally characterize the specific transporter involved in this translocation process.
Methods: Uptake studies were carried out with SIRC (Statens Seruminstitut Rabbit Cornea) and rPCEC (rabbit Primary corneal epithelial cell culture) in 12-well plates using [14C] Ascorbic acid (AA). Uptake was done in the presence of L-ascorbic acid and D-isoascorbic acid to delineate stereospecificity. Inhibition studies were performed in the presence of D-glucose a substrate for GLUT and also para amino hippuric acid (PAHA) a substrate for organic anion transporter. Effects of pH and sodium on the uptake of AA were characterized. Concentration dependency studies were performed. Energy dependence of AA uptake was investigated with ouabain and sodium azide in rPCEC. Reverse Transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) was also performed.
Results: Uptake of AA was inhibited by about 90% and 50% respectively in the presence of L-ascorbic acid and D-isoascorbic acid in both SIRC and rPCEC. Uptake was unaltered by D-glucose and PAHA. The process was sodium dependent and saturable at higher concentrations. Ouabain and sodium azide significantly diminished the uptake process. It also decreased with a reduction in pH. The RT-PCR results showed the presence of SVCT2 but not SVCT1.
Conclusions: Uptake of AA across rabbit corneal epithelial cells appears to be a carrier mediated active process. A saturable, sodium dependent, and pH sensitive transporter with high specificity for L-ascorbic acid was functionally characterized and was identified as SVCT2.