Background: Neutrophils play a critical role in host defense against a variety of microbial pathogens. There is much information to suggest a role for vitamin C in the physiology of neutrophils. Thus, the effects of vitamin C treatment were studied in a patient with a history of recurrent furunculosis who showed altered neutrophil functions.
Methods: Superoxide generation was measured by cytochrome C reduction. Phagocytosis of opsonized zymosan by neutrophils and chemotaxis on agarose plates were determined.
Results: Chemotaxis, phagocytosis, and superoxide generation of the patient's neutrophils were significantly lower than those of the matched control. Treatment with vitamin C (500 mg/day) for 30 days caused a dramatic clinical response and a significant improvement of all three neutrophil functions to values similar to those of the controls.
Conclusions: We suggest that the patient described here had a temporary defect in neutrophil functions. The treatment with vitamin C probably prevented neutrophil oxidation, thus contributing to recovery of neutrophil function and arrest of furunculosis.