There is a large body of evidence that purports to the cardioprotective benefits of taking vitamin C. In 30 October Circulation, Lothar Rössig, from the University of Frankfurt, Germany and colleagues elsewhere in Europe suggest that these effects are due to the prevention of apoptosis in the epithelium of blood vessels (Circulation 2001, 104:2182-2187).

The team conducted a series of experiments to investigate the effect of vitamin C on endothelial cell apoptosis. First, the researchers performed an in vitro analysis using cultured endothelial cells from healthy volunteers. Adding TNF-alpha or angiotensin II increased the rate of apoptosis by around three-fold. In contrast, adding vitamin C decreased it. Further work showed that vitamin C interfered with apoptosis signalling, by inhibiting the ability of TNF-alpha to induce the release of cytochrome C and suppressing caspase-9 activation.

Next, 34 patients with CHF were given either an intravenous infusion of 2.5...

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