Ascorbic acid in nasal and tracheobronchial airway lining fluids

Bettina C. Schock, John Koostra, Sunye Kwack, Robert M. Hackman, Albert Van Der Vliet, Carroll E Cross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Ascorbic acid (AA) is thought to be an important antioxidant in the respiratory tract, whose regulation is yet to be fully characterized. We investigated whether AA in respiratory tract lining fluids (RTLFs) can be augmented by oral supplementation with AA. Plasma, nasal lavage fluids (NLFs), induced sputum (IS), and saliva were analyzed for AA immediately before and 2 h after ingestion of 2 g of AA in 13 healthy subjects. Concentrations of AA (median and range) were 52.5 (16.0-88.5), 2.4 (0.18-4.66), 2.4 (0.18-6.00), and 0.55 (0.18-18.90) μmol/l, respectively. Two hours after ingestion of AA, plasma AA increased 2-fold (p =. 004), NLF AA increased 3-fold (p =. 039), but IS and saliva AA did not increase. As AA concentrations in saliva and tracheobronchial secretions were low compared with other common extracellular components (such as urate), we evaluated the fate of AA in these fluids. Addition of AA to freshly obtained saliva or IS resulted in rapid depletion, which could be largely prevented or reversed by sodium azide or dithiothreitol. These findings suggest that oxidant-producing systems in saliva and airway secretions, such as heme peroxidases and other oxidizing substances, rapidly consume AA. Whereas oral supplementation resulted in detectable increases of AA in NLFs, its levels in tracheobronchial lining fluid, as measured by IS, were unaffected and remained relatively low, suggesting that AA may play a less significant antioxidant role in this compartment as compared with most other extracellular compartments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1393-1401
Number of pages9
JournalFree Radical Biology and Medicine
Issue number9
StatePublished - Nov 1 2004


  • Ascorbic acid
  • Free radicals
  • Nasal fluids
  • Upper airways
  • Uric acid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Toxicology
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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