Author(s): Crcamo JM, Pedraza A, BrquezOjeda O, Golde DW
Extracellular stimuli signal for activation of the transcription factor NFkappaB, leading to gene expression regulating processes involved in immune responses, inflammation, and cell survival. Tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNFalpha) activates NFkappaB via a well-defined kinase pathways involving NFkappaB-inducing kinase (NIK), which activates downstream multisubunit IkappaB kinases (IKK). IKK in turn phosphorylates IkappaB, the central regulator of NFkappaB function. We found that intracellular vitamin C inhibits TNFalpha-induced activation of NFkappaB in human cell lines (HeLa, monocytic U937, myeloid leukemia HL-60, and breast MCF7) and primary endothelial cells (HUVEC) in a dose-dependent manner. Vitamin C is an important antioxidant, and most cells accumulate ascorbic acid (AA) intracellularly by transporting the oxidized form of the vitamin, dehydroascorbic acid (DHA). Because ascorbic acid is a strong pro-oxidant in the presence of transition metals in vitro, we loaded cells with vitamin C by incubating them with DHA. Vitamin C-loaded cells showed significantly decreased TNFalpha-induced nuclear translocation of NFkappaB, NFkappaB-dependent reporter transcription, and IkappaBalpha phosphorylation. Our data point to a mechanism of vitamin C suppression of NFkappaB activation by inhibiting TNFalpha-induced activation of NIK and IKKbeta kinases independent of p38 MAP kinase. These results suggest that intracellular vitamin C can influence inflammatory, neoplastic, and apoptotic processes via inhibition of NFkappaB activation.