Vitamin C metabolites and microangiopathy in diabetes mellitus.


Jennings PE, Chirico S, Jones AF, Lunec J, Barnett AH




Diabetes Res


Recent evidence has suggested that diabetic microangiopathy is associated with increased free radical induced oxidative damage. Ascorbic acid (AA) is a free radical scavenger and using a specific HPLC method we have investigated its concentration and that of its oxidized metabolite dehydroascorbic acid (DHAA) in diabetic patients and matched normal controls. The findings have been related to the presence of microangiopathy and to glycaemic control. Ascorbic acid levels were significantly lower in diabetics (mean +/- SD 42.5 +/- 26.2 mumol/l) compared with controls (58 +/- 21 mumol/l p less than 0.02). Although there was no differences in DHAA levels between the groups the ratio DHAA/AA was increased in diabetics (0.72 +/- 0.8) compared with controls (0.4 +/- 0.2 p less than 0.05). There were no significant differences between insulin and non-insulin dependent patients in these measurements and there was no association with the presence of microangiopathy or poor glycaemic control. The plasma ratio DHAA/AA may be a reflection of increased oxidative stress and our results suggest that diabetics may be less able to prevent oxidative damage occurring due to their lower AA concentrations.