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01.06.2015 | main topic | Ausgabe 11-12/2015

Wiener Medizinische Wochenschrift 11-12/2015

Molecular mechanisms of pharmacological doses of ascorbate on cancer cells

Wiener Medizinische Wochenschrift > Ausgabe 11-12/2015
Sascha Venturelli, Tobias W. Sinnberg, Heike Niessner, Dr. med. Christian Busch


Intravenous application of high-dose ascorbate (vitamin C) has been used in complementary medicine since the 1970s to treat cancer patients. In recent years it became evident that high-dose ascorbate in the millimolar range bears selective cytotoxic effects on cancer cells in vitro and in vivo. This anticancer effect is dose dependent, catalyzed by serum components and mediated by reactive oxygen species and ascorbyl radicals, making ascorbate a pro-oxidative pro-drug that catalyzes hydrogen peroxide production in tissues instead of acting as a radical scavenger. It further depends on HIF-1 signaling and oxygen pressure, and shows a strong epigenetic signature (alteration of DNA-methylation and induction of tumor-suppressing microRNAs in cancer cells). The detailed understanding of ascorbate-induced antiproliferative molecular mechanisms warrants in-depth preclinical evaluation in cancer-bearing animal models for the optimization of an efficacious therapy regimen (e.g., combination with hyperbaric oxygen or O2-sensitizers) that subsequently need to be evaluated in clinical trials.

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