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Severe systemic inflammatory response to infection results in severe sepsis and septic shock, which are the leading causes of death in critically ill patients. Septic shock is characterised by refractory hypotension and is typically managed by fluid resuscitation and administration of catecholamine vasopressors such as norepinephrine. Vasopressin can also be administered to raise mean arterial pressure or decrease the norepinephrine dose. Endogenous norepinephrine and vasopressin are synthesised by the copper-containing enzymes dopamine β-hydroxylase and peptidylglycine α-amidating monooxygenase, respectively. Both of these enzymes require ascorbate as a cofactor for optimal activity. Patients with severe sepsis present with hypovitaminosis C, and pre-clinical and clinical studies have indicated that administration of high-dose ascorbate decreases the levels of pro-inflammatory biomarkers, attenuates organ dysfunction and improves haemodynamic parameters. It is conceivable that administration of ascorbate to septic patients with hypovitaminosis C could improve endogenous vasopressor synthesis and thus ameliorate the requirement for exogenously administered vasopressors. Ascorbate-dependent vasopressor synthesis represents a currently underexplored biochemical mechanism by which ascorbate could act as an adjuvant therapy for severe sepsis and septic shock.
Copyright © Carr et al. 2015 Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
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