Oral vitamin C reduces arterial stiffness and platelet aggregation in humans

I. B. Wilkinson, I. L. Megson*, H. MacCallum, N. Sogo, J. R. Cockcroft, D. J. Webb

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

108 Citations (Scopus)


Atherosclerosis is associated with stiffening of conduit arteries and increased platelet activation, partly as a result of reduced bioavailability of nitric oxide (NO), a mediator that normally has a variety of protective effects on blood vessels and platelets. Increased levels of oxygen free radicals are a feature of atherosclerosis that contributes to reduced NO bioavailability and might lead to increased arterial stiffness and platelet activation. Vitamin C is a dietary antioxidant that inactivates oxygen free radicals. This placebo-controlled, doubleblind, randomized study was designed to establish whether acute oral administration of vitamin C (2 g), would reduce arterial stiffness and in vitro platelet aggregation in healthy male volunteers. Plasma vitamin C concentrations increased from 42 ± 8 to 104 ± 8 μM at 6 h after oral administration, and were associated with a significant reduction in augmentation index, a measure of arterial stiffness (by 9.6 ± 3.0%; p = 0.016), and ADP-induced platelet aggregation (by 35 ± 13%; p = 0.046). There was no change in these parameters after placebo. Vitamin C, therefore, appears to have beneficial effects, even in healthy subjects. The mechanism responsible is likely to involve protection of NO from inactivation by oxygen free radicals, but this requires confirmation. If similar effects are observed in patients with atherosclerosis or risk factors, vitamin C supplementation might prove an effective therapy in cardiovascular disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)690-693
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1999


  • Antioxidant
  • Arterial stiffness
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Nitric oxide
  • Platelet aggregation
  • Vitamin C


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