Ascorbate requirement for hydroxylation and secretion of procollagen: relationship to inhibition of collagen synthesis in scurvy

Am J Clin Nutr. 1991 Dec;54(6 Suppl):1135S-1140S. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/54.6.1135s.


Vitamin C deficiency is associated with defective connective tissue, particularly in wound healing. Ascorbate is required for hydroxylation of proline residues in procollagen and hydroxyproline stabilizes the collagen triple helical structure. Consequently, ascorbate stimulates procollagen secretion. However, collagen synthesis in ascorbate-deficient guinea pigs is decreased with only moderate effects on proline hydroxylation. Proteoglycan synthesis, which does not require ascorbate, also is decreased and both effects are correlated with the extent of weight loss during scurvy. Fasting, with ascorbate supplementation, produces similar effects. Both functions are inhibited in cells cultured in sera from either scorbutic or starved guinea pigs and inhibition is reversed with insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-I. The inhibitor appears to consist of two IGF-binding proteins induced during vitamin C deficiency and starving and may be responsible for in vivo inhibition of collagen and proteoglycan synthesis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Ascorbic Acid / pharmacology*
  • Carrier Proteins / pharmacology
  • Cartilage / metabolism
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Collagen / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Humans
  • Hydroxylation
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Proteins
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / pharmacology
  • Procollagen / metabolism*
  • Proteoglycans / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Proteoglycans / biosynthesis
  • Scurvy / blood
  • Scurvy / metabolism*
  • Starvation / blood


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Proteins
  • Procollagen
  • Proteoglycans
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Collagen
  • Ascorbic Acid