Vitamin C is known as a potent antioxidant. We studied vitamin C as a radioprotective agent, focusing on its antioxidative effect. When the body is exposed to radiation, free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) are produced and oxidize cell components, resulting in cell damage. Vitamin C has the potential to scavenge these radical products, thereby protecting against radiation-induced cell damage. We investigated the effects of vitamin C on radiation-induced gastrointestinal (GI) syndrome in mice. The mice received whole-body irradiation followed by bone marrow transplantation 24 h after exposure. Despite avoiding bone marrow failure, the mice eventually died of GI syndrome. Pretreatment with per os administration of high-dose vitamin C effectively mitigated radiation-induced GI syndrome and improved mouse survivals, while per os post-treatment with vitamin C was ineffective, presumably due to impaired absorption from the radiation-damaged intestine. We also investigated the effect of post-exposure treatment with intraperitoneal administration of vitamin C on radiation-induced bone marrow dysfunction in mice. Intraperitoneal administration with high-dose vitamin C, even at 24 h after whole-body irradiation, was still effective in avoiding bone marrow dysfunction, thereby increasing mouse survival after radiation. In conclusion, administration of high-dose vitamin C effectively reduced the radiation lethality in mice.
Part of the book: Vitamin C