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Vitamin C protects brain from seizures

Nov. 8, 2018, 1:00 PM

by Nora Foegeding

Alzheimer’s patients are five to 10 times more likely to suffer unprovoked seizures compared to healthy individuals. Alzheimer’s patients often also have reduced levels of ascorbate, or vitamin C.

Ascorbate is an important antioxidant in the brain, particularly in the synapse, where it protects against oxidative stress. Ascorbate is released into the synapse as glutamate is cleared from the synapse, an exchange important for excitatory neurotransmission.

Fiona Harrison, PhD, and colleagues, investigated the role of ascorbate in susceptibility to seizures. Using genetically-modified mice that, like humans, depend on dietary ascorbate, they report that low ascorbate renders mice more susceptible to pharmacologically-induced seizures and alters the expression of several glutamate transporter genes. Even a single, mild seizure impacted memory in a mouse model for Alzheimer’s disease.

The study published in Neurobiology of Aging supports the importance of brain ascorbate levels in protecting against seizures and cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s disease.

This research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (AG038739, NS082635) and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Behavioral testing was performed in the Vanderbilt Mouse Neurobehavioral Laboratory, which is supported by grant HD083211. The work was also supported in part by research grants from CURE and the Dravet Syndrome Foundation.

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