Vitamin C mediates a number of physiologically important enzymatic reactions but the precise molecular mechanisms employed remain incompletely understood. In May Nature Medicine, Sotiria Sotiriou and colleagues from National Human Genome Research Institute, Bethesda, USA, show that the ascorbic-acid transporter Slc23a1 is essential for vitamin C transport into the brain and for perinatal survival (Nature Med 2002, 8:514-517).

Sotiriou et al. studied mice deficient in the mouse ortholog (solute carrier family 23 member 1 or Slc23a1) of a rat ascorbic-acid transporter. They observed that these mice had reduced ascorbic-acid levels in the blood and tissues and died within a few minutes of birth from respiratory failure and intraparenchymal brain hemorrhage. In addition, prenatal supplementation of pregnant females did not elevate blood ascorbic acid in Slc23a1–/– fetuses, suggesting Slc23a1 is important in placental ascorbic-acid transport.

These results "adds to our understanding of the critical role...

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