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Acute effects of vitamin C on platelet responsiveness to nitric oxide donors and endothelial function in patients with chronic heart failure.

Ellis GR; Anderson RA; Chirkov YY; Morris-Thurgood J; Jackson SK; Lewis MJ; Horowitz JD; Frenneaux MP

Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology 2001 May;37(5):564-70

Chronic heart failure (CHF) is characterized by a prothrombotic state, which may relate to increased platelet aggregability, endothelial dysfunction, and increased oxidative stress. We investigated the effect of vitamin C in CHF on ex vivo platelet aggregation and platelet responsiveness to the anti-aggregatory effects of the nitric oxide (NO) donors glyceryl trinitrate (GTN) and sodium nitroprusside (SNP). We also examined parameters of oxidative stress and endothelial function in patients. In this double-blind, randomized, crossover study vitamin C (2 g) or placebo was given intravenously to 10 patients with CHF. We measured adenosine 5-diphosphate (ADP)-induced platelet aggregation, flow-mediated dilatation (FMD) in the brachial artery using ultrasonic wall-tracking, and plasma levels of lipid-derived free radicals using electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy. Vitamin C did not affect ex vivo platelet aggregability but enhanced the inhibition of platelet aggregation by SNP (62.7+/-10.2 to 82.7+/-4.8%, p = 0.03) and tended to increase responses to GTN (40.5+/-9.0 to 53.4+/-7.3, p = 0.06). The effect of vitamin C on platelet responsiveness to the antiaggregatory effects of SNP was inversely related to basal response to SNP (r = -0.9, p < 0.01); a similar trend was observed with GTN (r = -0.6, p = 0.1). Vitamin C also increased FMD (1.9+/-0.6 to 5.8+/-1.5%, p = 0.02) and reduced plasma lipid-derived free radicals by 49+/-19% (p < 0.05). In patients with CHF acute intravenous administration of vitamin C enhances platelet responsiveness to the anti-aggregatory effects of NO donors and improves endothelial function, suggesting a potential role for vitamin C as a therapeutic agent in CHF.

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