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Vitamin C may prevent skin damage

Monday September 14th, 2009

Vitamin C can help repair the skin and heal wounds, British researchers have claimed.

Dr Tiago Duarte of Leicester University, UK, and colleagues in Portugal previously found that DNA repair is boosted or "upregulated" in people taking vitamin C supplements.

This time, they investigated certain properties of vitamin C in cells using human skin samples and microarray techniques, looking at gene expression and DNA damage and repair.

Dr Duarte explains that ultraviolet radiation from sunlight is a genotoxic agent, that is, it can damage DNA through the formation of free radicals. This can lead to skin cancer.

"Our study analysed the effect of sustained exposure to a vitamin C derivative, ascorbic acid 2-phosphate, in human dermal fibroblasts [connective tissue]," he says. "We investigated which genes are activated by vitamin C in these cells, which are responsible for skin regeneration.

"The results demonstrated that vitamin C may improve wound healing by stimulating dormant fibroblasts to divide, and by promoting their migration into the wounded area. Vitamin C could also protect the skin by increasing the capacity of fibroblasts to repair potentially mutagenic DNA lesions."

Details are published in the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine.

Co-author Dr Marcus Cooke believes that the study could lead to advances in the prevention and treatment of skin lesions, as well as "contributing to the fight against cancer".

"The study indicates a mechanism by which vitamin C could contribute to the maintenance of a healthy skin," he said. "We will certainly be looking into this further."

Cooke, M. S. Study published in Free Radical Biology and Medicine (in press).

Tags: Dermatology | Diet & Food | UK News

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