Efficacy of vitamin C in patients with sepsis: An updated meta-analysis

Eur J Pharmacol. 2020 Feb 5;868:172889. doi: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2019.172889. Epub 2019 Dec 21.


Previous studies have suggested the beneficial effects of vitamin C in patients with sepsis. However, the results could not be reproduced in the subsequent studies. This meta-analysis aimed to reevaluate the value of vitamin C treatment in patients with sepsis. Electronic databases were searched from inception to August 2019 for the studies comparing the effect of vitamin C versus non-vitamin C infusion in patients with sepsis. Data from 10 studies (4 randomized controlled trials [RCTs] and 6 retrospective studies) involving 1671 patients (495 in the vitamin C treatment group and 1176 in the control group) were included. The use of vitamin C did not reduce the risk of 28-day (OR = 0.84, P = 0.611, I2 = 56.3%), intensive care unit (ICU; OR = 0.79, P = 0.319, I2 = 46.2%), or in-hospital mortality (OR = 0.76, P = 0.251, I2 = 51.0%). No difference in the duration of vasopressor usage and the length of ICU or hospital stay was present. The subgroup analysis for two RCTs suggested that vitamin C treatment showed reduced 28-day mortality (OR = 0.22, P = 0.014, I2 = 35.7%), whereas this beneficial effect did not occur in subgroup analysis for three retrospective studies (OR = 1.11, P = 0.527, I2 = 0%). Retrospective meta-analysis could not reveal the beneficial effect of vitamin C on patients with sepsis. Therefore, in order to clarify the role of vitamin C in sepsis the high-quality RCTs will be required in the future study.

Keywords: Meta-analysis; Sepsis; Vitamin C.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Ascorbic Acid / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Therapy, Combination / methods
  • Drug Therapy, Combination / statistics & numerical data
  • Hospital Mortality
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units / statistics & numerical data
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Sepsis / drug therapy*
  • Sepsis / mortality
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vasoconstrictor Agents / therapeutic use


  • Vasoconstrictor Agents
  • Ascorbic Acid