Effect of High-dose Vitamin C Combined With Anti-cancer Treatment on Breast Cancer Cells

Anticancer Res. 2019 Feb;39(2):751-758. doi: 10.21873/anticanres.13172.


Background/aim: The anti-cancer effect of high doses of intravenous vitamin C (high-dose vitamin C) remains controversial despite growing evidence that high-dose vitamin C exerts anti-tumorigenic activity by increasing the amount of reactive oxygen species in cancer cells without meaningful toxicities. Therefore, this study attempted to demonstrate the in vitro anti-cancer activity of high-dose vitamin C in combination with conventional treatment in breast cancer.

Materials and methods: The pro-apoptotic effects of high-dose vitamin C (1.25 to 20 mM) with or without anti-cancer agents (eribulin mesylate, tamoxifen, fulvestrant, or trastuzumab) were estimated using an MTT assay to measure the cell viability of a variety of breast cancer cell lines (MCF7, SK-BR3, and MDA-MB-231), as well as normal breast epithelial cells (MCF10A).

Results: High-dose vitamin C (≥10 mM) significantly decreased cell viability of all breast cancer cell lines, particularly of MCF-7 cells. The catalase activities of MCF7 and MDA-MD-231 cells were also lower than those of MCF10A cells. Moreover, cell viability of both MCF7 and MDA-MD-231 cells was decreased further when combining high-dose vitamin C and eribulin mesylate, and this was also true for MCF-7 cells when combining high-dose vitamin C with tamoxifen or fulvestrant and for SK-BR3 cells when combining high-dose vitamin C with trastuzumab in comparison with chemotherapy or endocrine therapy alone.

Conclusion: Combining high-dose vitamin C with conventional anti-cancer drugs can have therapeutic advantages against breast cancer cells.

Keywords: High-dose vitamin C; anticancer effect; breast cancer.

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / pharmacology
  • Ascorbic Acid / administration & dosage*
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Drug Screening Assays, Antitumor
  • Drug Synergism
  • Female
  • Fulvestrant / administration & dosage*
  • Furans / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Ketones / administration & dosage*
  • MCF-7 Cells
  • Tamoxifen / administration & dosage*
  • Trastuzumab / administration & dosage*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Furans
  • Ketones
  • Tamoxifen
  • Fulvestrant
  • eribulin
  • Trastuzumab
  • Ascorbic Acid