Navigation Links
OHSU scientists discover new role for vitamin C in the eye -- and the brain

Portland, Ore. Nerve cells in the eye require vitamin C in order to function properly a surprising discovery that may mean vitamin C is required elsewhere in the brain for its proper functioning, according to a study by scientists at Oregon Health & Science University recently published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

"We found that cells in the retina need to be 'bathed' in relatively high doses of vitamin C, inside and out, to function properly," said Henrique von Gersdorff, Ph.D., a senior scientist at OHSU's Vollum Institute and a co-author of the study. "Because the retina is part of the central nervous system, this suggests there's likely an important role for vitamin C throughout our brains, to a degree we had not realized before."

The brain has special receptors, called GABA-type receptors, that help modulate the rapid communication between cells in the brain. GABA receptors in the brain act as an inhibitory "brake" on excitatory neurons in the brain. The OHSU researchers found that these GABA-type receptors in the retinal cells stopped functioning properly when vitamin C was removed.

Because retinal cells are a kind of very accessible brain cell, it's likely that GABA receptors elsewhere in the brain also require vitamin C to function properly, von Gersdorff said. And because vitamin C is a major natural antioxidant, it may be that it essentially 'preserves' the receptors and cells from premature breakdown, von Gersdorff said.

The function of vitamin C in the brain is not well understood. In fact, when the human body is deprived of vitamin C, the vitamin stays in the brain longer than anyplace else in the body. "Perhaps the brain is the last place you want to lose vitamin C," von Gersdorff said. The findings also may offer a clue as to why scurvy which results from a severe lack of vitamin C acts the way it does, von Gersdorff said. One of the common symptoms of scurvy is depression, and that may come from the lack of vitamin C in the brain.

The findings could have implications for other diseases, like glaucoma and epilepsy. Both conditions are caused by the dysfunction of nerve cells in the retina and brain that become over excited in part because GABA receptors may not be functioning properly.

"For example, maybe a vitamin C-rich diet could be neuroprotective for the retina for people who are especially prone to glaucoma," von Gersdorff said. "This is speculative and there is much to learn. But this research provides some important insights and will lead to the generation of new hypotheses and potential treatment strategies."

Scientists and students in von Gerdorff's lab in OHSU's Vollum Institute are dedicated to basic neuroscience research. The vitamin C research work was done using goldfish retinas, which have the same overall biological structure as human retinas.


Contact: Todd Murphy
Oregon Health & Science University

Related biology news :

1. Jefferson scientists deliver toxic genes to effectively kill pancreatic cancer cells
2. Scientists identify novel inhibitor of human microRNA
3. Argonne scientists peer into heart of compound that may detect chemical, biological weapons
4. MU scientists go green with gold, distribute environmentally friendly nanoparticles
5. Scientists identify gene that may contribute to improved rice yield
6. Scientists discover why a mothers high-fat diet contributes to obesity in her children
7. MU scientists see how HIV matures into an infection
8. Earth scientists keep an eye on Texas
9. Thinking it through: Scientists call for policy to guide biofuels industry toward sustainability
10. Scientists identify a molecule that coordinates the movement of cells
11. Scientists Find new migratory patterns for Mediterranean and Western Atlantic bluefin tuna
Post Your Comments:
(Date:10/12/2015)... 2015 NXTD ) ("NXT-ID" or the ... commerce market, reports on the recent SNS Future in Review ... --> NXTD ) ("NXT-ID" or the "Company"), a biometric ... on the recent SNS Future in Review Conference in ... Inc. (NASDAQ: NXTD ) ("NXT-ID" or the "Company"), a ...
(Date:10/8/2015)... 2015 NXT-ID, Inc. (NASDAQ: ... biometric authentication company focused on the growing mobile ... wallet announces that revenues for the three months ... with $113,00 for the three months ended June ... September 30, 2015 were approximately $520,000. ...
(Date:10/5/2015)... ) releases the following ... NXTD ), a biometric authentication company focused on the ... ) releases the following market and company update ... authentication company focused on the growing mobile commerce market. ... ) releases the following market and company update ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/13/2015)... Oct. 13, 2015  According to Kalorama Information, ... reach $102 billion by the end of 2015. ... health industry, as it is estimated that approximately ... laboratory tests. In addition to diagnosing patients, clinical ... disease progression, monitor drug treatment and conditions, and ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... , ... October 13, 2015 , ... ... distributor of automation systems, material handling solutions and components, is opening its latest ... near State Street, the facility is Exotic’s second major expansion in Metropolitan Detroit ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... Charlotte, NC (PRWEB) , ... October 13, 2015 ... ... high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) technologies, announced today that it received de novo ... 450 in the U.S. for the ablation of prostate tissue. Sonablate® is ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... , ... October 13, 2015 , ... ... educational opportunities for school age children in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering ... sectors of the national economy, and the program aims to increase the number ...
Breaking Biology Technology: