Partners in defense, vitamin E and vitamin C

Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 1993 Sep;71(9):725-31. doi: 10.1139/y93-109.


In addition to the enzymic mechanism of free-radical removal, essential nutrients that can scavenge free radicals, such as vitamins E and C, constitute a strong line of defense in retarding free radical induced cellular damage. Distinct pathways for the repair of oxidized vitamin E in human cells have been recently identified. Within 0.5 min after the addition of arachidonic acid to a human platelet homogenate, over half of the platelet vitamin E and added arachidonate were metabolized by platelet cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase pathways. After adding nordihydroguaiaretic acid, a lipoxygenase inhibitor and a strong reductant, over 60% of the oxidized vitamin E was regenerated. To test other physiological, water-soluble reductants that may help regenerate vitamin E, eicosatetraynoic acid, a lipoxygenase inhibitor that is not an antioxidant, was used. In this system, both ascorbate and glutathione provided significant vitamin E regeneration. Kinetic analysis and studies of vitamin E regeneration in a protein-denaturing system revealed that ascorbate regenerates vitamin E by a nonenzymic mechanism, whereas glutathione regenerates vitamin E enzymatically. These studies suggest that significant interaction occurs between water- and lipid-soluble molecules at the membrane-cytosol interface and that vitamin C may function in vivo to repair the membrane-bound oxidized vitamin E.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / metabolism*
  • Ascorbic Acid / metabolism
  • Ascorbic Acid / physiology*
  • Free Radicals / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Vitamin E / metabolism
  • Vitamin E / physiology*


  • Antioxidants
  • Free Radicals
  • Vitamin E
  • Ascorbic Acid