Ascorbate- and dehydroascorbic acid-mediated reduction of free radicals in the human erythrocyte

J Biol Chem. 1991 Feb 15;266(5):2724-31.


Nitroxides were used as models of persistent free radicals to study the antioxidant function of ascorbic acid in the human erythrocyte. It was concluded that: 1) ascorbate and other reductant(s) derived from dehydroascorbic acid (DHA) in the presence of thiols are the only significant reducing agents for nitroxides, 2) glutathione and DHA reduce nitroxides by a process that cannot be inhibited by ascorbic acid oxidase, 3) erythrocytes can be depleted of ascorbic acid by exhaustive washing in the presence of membrane-permeable cationic nitroxides such as N,N-dimethylamino-Tempo, 4) ascorbate-depleted cells do not reduce nitroxides; however, nitroxide reduction is restored when the cells are incubated with DHA, 5) reduction of nitroxides in ascorbate-depleted, DHA-treated cells is significantly faster than in buffered solutions of DHA and glutathione, 6) several equivalents of nitroxide are reduced relative to the intracellular ascorbate pool, 7) sustained nitroxide reduction is observed even when most of the intracellular ascorbate is oxidized, 8) spin trapping of oxyradicals in tert-butyl hydroperoxide-treated cells is accelerated with ascorbate depletion and inhibited with ascorbate loading, 9) ascorbate can be quantified within intact cells by analyzing the initial reduction rates of membrane-permeable cationic nitroxides, and 10) DHA-stimulated reduction of cationic nitroxides is slower and less extensive in erythrocytes deficient in glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase than in normal erythrocytes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Ascorbic Acid / chemistry*
  • Dehydroascorbic Acid / chemistry*
  • Erythrocytes / metabolism*
  • Free Radicals
  • Glutathione / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Oxidation-Reduction


  • Free Radicals
  • Glutathione
  • Ascorbic Acid
  • Dehydroascorbic Acid