Smoking and the antioxidant ascorbic acid: plasma, leukocyte, and cervicovaginal cell concentrations in normal healthy women

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1990 Dec;163(6 Pt 1):1948-52. doi: 10.1016/0002-9378(90)90779-7.


The influence of cigarette smoking on the plasma, leukocyte, and cervicovaginal cell ascorbic acid levels in 46 healthy smokers and healthy nonsmokers was investigated. Coded peripheral venous blood and cervicovaginal lavage specimens obtained after informed consent were analyzed simultaneously for their ascorbic acid content. The findings suggest that smoking affects the levels and distribution of ascorbic acid. In smokers (n = 16), the number of exfoliated cervicovaginal epithelial cells and leukocyte ascorbic acid levels was significantly higher (p less than 0.01, p less than 0.05, respectively) compared with nonsmokers (n = 30). In addition, cervicovaginal cell ascorbic acid, plasma reduced and total ascorbic acid levels were significantly lower (p less than 0.001, p less than 0.01, p less than 0.01, respectively). The exfoliated epithelial cell ascorbic acid levels in nonsmokers was fourfold greater than that of leukocytes. The implications of these findings within the context of free radical-induced cellular pertubations in smokers are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antioxidants / pharmacokinetics*
  • Ascorbic Acid / blood
  • Ascorbic Acid / pharmacokinetics*
  • Cell Count
  • Cervix Uteri / cytology
  • Cervix Uteri / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Leukocytes / metabolism*
  • Reference Values
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Smoking / blood
  • Smoking / metabolism
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Vagina / cytology
  • Vagina / metabolism*


  • Antioxidants
  • Ascorbic Acid