Vitamin C or ascorbic acid (AsA) is a naturally occurring organic compound with antioxidant properties, found in both animals and plants. It functions as a redox buffer which can reduce, and thereby neutralize, reactive oxygen species. It is a cofactor for enzymes involved in regulating photosynthesis, hormone biosynthesis, and regenerating other antioxidants; which also regulates cell division and growth, is involved in signal transduction, and has roles in several physiological processes, such as immune stimulation, synthesis of collagen, hormones, neurotransmitters, and iron absorption, has also roles in detoxifying the body of heavy metals. Severe deficiency of vitamin C causes scurvy, whereas limited vitamin C intake causes symptoms, such as increased susceptibility to infections, loosening of teeth, dryness of the mouth and eyes, loss of hair, dry itchy skin, fatigue, and insomnia. In contrast, vitamin C can also act as a prooxidant, especially in the presence of transition metals, such as iron and copper, starting different hazardous radical reactions. Vitamin C can both act as a strong, efficient, and cheap antioxidant agent and, at the same time, behave as a radical promoter. Further investigations are needed to illuminate the dual roles of vitamin C
Part of the book: Vitamin C
Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are involved in various development stages of seed biology. During seed desiccation, germination and aging, oxidative stress may increase in higher levels, leading to cellular damage and seed deterioration. Plant cells have antioxidant system, detoxifying enzymes and antioxidant compounds, that scavenge ROS, participating in seed survival. This antioxidant system has various roles in desiccation and germination of developing seeds, seed storability, and seed aging. On the other hand, ROS are accepted as molecules involving in cellular signaling, and having regulatory functions in seed development. ROS are also found to have roles in gene expression in early embryogenesis, dormancy and germination. Abscisic acid is a plant hormone and a signaling molecule in seed development and that is reported to have relationships with ROS. The objective of this article is to review the roles of ROS and the importance of antioxidant system in orthodox seeds, and to emphasize the dual effects of ROS in seed biology.
Part of the book: Seed Biology
Vitamin C is an essential micronutrient, a free radical scavenger; while it has functions such as blocking oncogenic transformation induced by carcinogens. A different view of the potential action of vitamin C in cancer came from the discovery of its importance for activation of ten-eleven translocation (TET) enzymes that are involved in demethylation of DNA and histones. Aberrant DNA and histone methylation are hallmarks of all cancers and may result from altered expression or point mutations in the genes encoding these regulatory enzymes. Recent studies have shown that vitamin C potentiates the effects of DNA methyltransferase inhibitors. Epigenetic alterations, along with genetic mutations, are known to contribute to onset of cancer. Vitamin C is found to be a key mediator of the interface between genome and environment, regulating DNA demethylation as a cofactor for TET dioxygenases. It is shown that vitamin C drives active removal of DNA methylation by enhancing TET enzymes, which helps to erase DNA methylation and epigenetic memory encoded by it to improve reprogramming of differentiated cells to an embryonic-like state. Here, an overview of the role of vitamin C as an essential factor for epigenetic regulation and its potential in epigenetic therapy in cancer patients is provided.
Part of the book: Vitamin C
The roles of diet and environment on health have been known since ancient times. Cancer is both a genetic and an epigenetic disease and a complex interplay mechanism of genetic and environmental factors composed of multiple stages in which gene expression, protein and metabolite function operate synchronically. Disruption of epigenetic processes results in life-threatening diseases, in particular, cancer. Epigenetics involves altered gene expression without any change of nucleotide sequences, such as DNA methylation, histone modifications and non-coding RNAs in the regulation of genome. According to current studies, cancer is preventable with appropriate or balanced food and nutrition, in some cases. Nutrient intake is an environmental factor, and dietary components play an importent role in both cancer development and prevention. Due to epigenetic events induce changes in DNA and thus influencing over all gene expression in response to the food components, bioactive compounds and phytochemicals as potent antioxidants and cancer preventive agents have important roles in human diet. Several dietray components can alter cancer cell behavior and cancer risk by influencing key pathways and steps in carcinogenesis, including signaling, apoptosis, differentiation, or inflammation. To date, multiple biologically active food components are strongly suggested to have protective potential against cancer formation, such as methyl-group donors, fatty acids, phytochemicals, flavonoids, isothiocyanates, etc. Diet considered as a source of either carcinogens that are present in certain foods or acting in a protective manner such as vitamins, antioxidants, detoxifying substances, chelating agents etc. Thus, dietary phytochemicals as epigenetic modifiers in cancer and effects of dietary phytochemicals on gene expression and signaling pathways have been widely studied in cancer. In this chapter, current knowledge on interactions between cancer metabolism, epigenetic gene regulation, and how both processes are affected by dietary components are summerized. A comprehensive overview of natural compounds with epigenetic activity on tumorogenesis mechanisms by which natural compounds alter the cancer epigenome is provided. Studies made in epigenetics and cancer research demonstrated that genetic and epigenetic mechanisms are not separate events in cancer; they influence each other during carcinogenesis, highlighting plant-derived anticancer compounds with epigenetic mechanisms of action, and potential use in epigenetic therapy. Recent investigations involving epigenetic modulations suggest that diet rich in phytochemicals not only reduce the risk of developing cancer, but also affect the treatment outcome.
Part of the book: Epigenetics to Optogenetics - A New Paradigm in the Study of Biology
Nature is full of poisons as well as life-saving entities. Extracts of natural products in medicinal plants have been used for thousands of years in traditional medicine throughout the World. Bitter melon (Momordica charantia) is a member of Cucurbitaceae family, widely distributed in tropical regions of the World, that has been used in folk medicine for the treatment of diabetes mellitus, and its fruit has been used as a vegetable for thousands of years. It contains phytochemicals, flavonoids, triterpenes, saponins, ascorbic acid, steroids, proteins, and polysaccharides. This plant is a traditional herbal medicine, possesses various biological, medicinal activities and pharmacological functions, namely antidiabetic, anthelmintic, contraceptive, antimalarial, laxative, antihyperglycemic, antimutagenic, antiulcer, antilipolytic, antifertility, hepatoprotective, anticancer, antibacterial, antiviral, antitumor, immunomodulation, antioxidant, antidiabetic, and anti-inflammatory activities of M. charantia have been reported. Its fruit has a special bitter taste, parts of M. charantia, such as fruits, vines, leaves and even roots have been used as folk medicine for the remedy of diseases like toothache, diarrhea, and diabetes. It is also used for the treatment of eczema, gout, jaundice, pneumonia, psoriasis, and rheumatism. These beneficial effects are attributed to the various bioactive components of M. charantia, which are important sources of phytoconstituents used to treat various diseases since ancient times. This chapter reviews various aspects of the results of investigations involving M. charantia in the recent years, providing a comprehensive overview of the phytochemical application of M. charantia to attract more attention to their biological activities for better utilization of M. charantia; focusing on the review of benefits that bitter melon offers in terms of its potential as a source of bioactive compounds and its role in the control of different diseases.
Part of the book: Functional Foods