Vitamin C transporters

J Physiol Biochem. 2008 Dec;64(4):357-75. doi: 10.1007/BF03174092.


Vitamin C is a wide spectrum antioxidant essential for humans, which are unable to synthesize the vitamin and must obtain it from dietary sources. There are two biologically important forms of vitamin C, the reduced form, ascorbic acid, and the oxidized form, dehydroascorbic acid. Vitamin C exerts most of its biological functions intracellularly and is acquired by cells with the participation of specific membrane transporters. This is a central issue because even in those species capable of synthesizing vitamin C, synthesis is restricted to the liver (and pancreas) from which is distributed to the organism. Most cells express two different transporter systems for vitamin C; a transporter system with absolute specificity for ascorbic acid and a second system that shows absolute specificity for dehydroascorbic acid. The dehydroascorbic acid transporters are members of the GLUT family of facilitative glucose transporters, of which at least three isoforms, GLUT1, GLUT3 and GLUT4, are dehydroascorbic acid transporters. Ascorbic acid is transported by the SVCT family of sodium-coupled transporters, with two isoforms molecularly cloned, the transporters SVCT1 y SVCT2, that show different functional properties and differential cell and tissue expression. In humans, the maintenance of a low daily requirement of vitamin C is attained through an efficient system for the recycling of the vitamin involving the two families of vitamin C transporters.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Ascorbic Acid / metabolism*
  • Glucose Transporter Type 1 / metabolism*
  • Glucose Transporter Type 3 / metabolism*
  • Glucose Transporter Type 4 / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Organic Anion Transporters, Sodium-Dependent / metabolism*
  • Sodium-Coupled Vitamin C Transporters
  • Symporters / metabolism*


  • Glucose Transporter Type 1
  • Glucose Transporter Type 3
  • Glucose Transporter Type 4
  • Organic Anion Transporters, Sodium-Dependent
  • SLC23A1 protein, human
  • SLC23A2 protein, human
  • Sodium-Coupled Vitamin C Transporters
  • Symporters
  • Ascorbic Acid