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Supplemental Ascorbate Diminishes DNA Damage Yet Depletes Glutathione And Increases Acute Liver Failure In A Mouse Model Of Hepatic Antioxidant System Disruption

Colin G. Miller, Jean A. Kundert, Justin R. Prigge, Julie A. Amato, Allison E. Perez, Lucia Coppo, Gabrielle N. Rizzo, Michael P. Kavanaugh, David J. Orlicky, Colin T. Shearn, Edward E. Schmidt

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Cellular oxidants are primarily managed by the thioredoxin reductase-1 (TrxR1)- and glutathione reductase (Gsr)-driven antioxidant systems. In mice having hepatocyte-specific co-disruption of TrxR1 and Gsr (TrxR1/Gsr-null livers), methionine catabolism sustains hepatic levels of reduced glutathione (GSH). Although most mice with TrxR1/Gsr-null livers exhibit long-term survival, ~25% die from spontaneous liver failure between 4- and 7-weeks of age. Here we tested whether liver failure was ameliorated by ascorbate supplementation. Following ascorbate, dehydroascorbate, or mock treatment, we assessed survival, liver histology, or hepatic redox markers including GSH and GSSG, redox enzyme activities, and oxidative damage markers. Unexpectedly, rather than providing protection, ascorbate (5 mg/mL, drinking water) increased the death-rate to 43%. In adults, ascorbate (4 mg/g × 3 days i.p.) caused hepatocyte necrosis and loss of hepatic GSH in TrxR1/Gsr-null livers but not in wildtype controls. Dehydroascorbate (0.3 mg/g i.p.) also depleted hepatic GSH in TrxR1/Gsr-null livers, whereas GSH levels were not significantly affected by either treatment in wildtype livers. Curiously, however, despite depleting GSH, ascorbate treatment diminished basal DNA damage and oxidative stress markers in TrxR1/Gsr-null livers. This suggests that, although ascorbate supplementation can prevent oxidative damage, it also can deplete GSH and compromise already stressed livers.