Molecular detection of exercise-induced free radicals following ascorbate prophylaxis in type 1 diabetes mellitus: a randomised controlled trial

B Davies, Damian Bailey, G W Davison, L George, T Ashton, I S Young, J McEneny, S K Jackson, J R Peters

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Aims/hypothesis Patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus are more susceptible than healthy individuals to exercise-induced oxidative stress and vascular endothelial dysfunction, which has important implications for the progression of disease. Thus, in the present study, we designed a randomised double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to test the original hypothesis that oral prophylaxis with vitamin C attenuates rest and exercise-induced free radical-mediated lipid peroxidation in type 1 diabetes mellitus. Methods All data were collected from hospitalised diabetic patients. The electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopic detection of spin-trapped α-phenyl-tert-butylnitrone (PBN) adducts was combined with the use of supporting markers of lipid peroxidation and non-enzymatic antioxidants to assess exercise-induced oxidative stress in male patients with type 1 diabetes (HbA1c 7.9 ± 1%, n = 12) and healthy controls (HbA1c 4.6 ± 0.5%, n = 14). Following participant randomisation using numbers in a sealed envelope, venous blood samples were obtained at rest, after a maximal exercise challenge and before and 2 h after oral ingestion of 1 g ascorbate or placebo. Participants and lead investigators were blinded to the administration of either placebo or ascorbate treatments. Primary outcome was the difference in changes in free radicals following ascorbate ingestion. Results Six diabetic patients and seven healthy control participants were randomised to each of the placebo and ascorbate groups. Diabetic patients (n = 12) exhibited an elevated concentration of PBN adducts (p < 0.05 vs healthy, n = 14), which were confirmed as secondary, lipid-derived oxygen-centred alkoxyl (RO·) radicals (anitrogen = 1.37 mT and aβhydrogen = 0.18 mT). Lipid hydroperoxides were also selectively elevated and associated with a depression of retinol and lycopene (p < 0.05 vs healthy). Vitamin C supplementation increased plasma vitamin C concentration to a similar degree in both groups (p < 0.05 vs pre-supplementation) and attenuated the exercise-induced oxidative stress response (p < 0.05 vs healthy). There were no selective treatment differences between groups in the primary outcome variable. Conclusions/interpretation These findings are the first to suggest that oral vitamin C supplementation provides an effective prophylaxis against exercise-induced free radical-mediated lipid peroxidation in human diabetic blood.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2049 - 2059
Number of pages10
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 30 May 2008


  • ascorbic acid
  • electron paramagnetic resonance
  • free radicals
  • glucose
  • type 1 diabetes mellitus


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