Vitamin E and C supplementation does not ameliorate muscle dysfunction after anterior cruciate ligament surgery

Free Radic Biol Med. 2009 Dec 1;47(11):1611-8. doi: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2009.09.010. Epub 2009 Sep 12.


Muscle atrophy and weakness are predominant impairments after anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgical repair. We tested the hypothesis that vitamin E and C supplementation will improve recovery from ACL injury. Men undergoing elective ACL surgery were randomly assigned to twice-daily supplements of either antioxidants (AO; vitamins E and C, n=10) or matching placebos (n=10) from 2 weeks before until 3 months after surgery. Each subject provided several fasting blood draws, two muscle biopsies from the thigh muscle of the injured limb, and strength and thigh circumference measurements of the lower limbs. Muscle atrophy was apparent in both groups before and several days after surgery. Compared with baseline measurements, peak isometric force of the injured limb increased significantly (P<0.05) by 3 months postsurgery in both treatment groups; however, AO supplementation did not augment these strength gains. By contrast, baseline plasma ascorbic acid concentrations correlated (r=0.59, P=0.006) with subsequent improvement in the strength of the injured limb. In summary, vitamin E and C supplementation was ineffective in potentiating the improvement in force production by the injured limb; however, baseline vitamin C status was associated with beneficial outcomes in strength, suggesting that long-term dietary habits are more effective than short-term supplements.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament / drug effects*
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament / pathology
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament / physiology
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament / surgery
  • Ascorbic Acid / administration & dosage*
  • Ascorbic Acid / blood
  • Biopsy
  • Body Size
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Humans
  • Lower Extremity / pathology
  • Male
  • Muscle Strength
  • Muscular Atrophy / blood
  • Muscular Atrophy / drug therapy*
  • Muscular Atrophy / etiology
  • Muscular Atrophy / physiopathology
  • Orthopedic Procedures*
  • Postoperative Complications*
  • Recovery of Function / drug effects
  • Tocopherols / administration & dosage*
  • Tocopherols / blood


  • Ascorbic Acid
  • Tocopherols