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Scientists Shed Light On Critical Role Played By Vitamin C In Central Nervous System

June 29, 2011: 12:00 AM EST
A multinational team of scientists has discovered that the nerve cells in the retina – and perhaps other cells of the central nervous system and brain – depend heavily on vitamin C to function properly. Researchers said special receptors in the brain, called GABA-type receptors, act as an inhibitory "brake" on excitatory neurons in the brain. These receptors in the retinal cells stop functioning properly when vitamin C is removed. It's likely that GABA receptors elsewhere in the brain also require vitamin C to function properly, researchers said. Because vitamin C is a major natural antioxidant, it may preserve the receptors and cells from premature breakdown. The researchers said the findings could have implications for other diseases, like glaucoma and epilepsy, which are caused by the dysfunction of nerve cells in the retina and brain.
Cecilia I. Calero, et al., "Allosteric Modulation of Retinal GABA Receptors by Ascorbic Acid", The Journal of Neuroscience, June 29, 2011, © The authors
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