Intravenous Vitamin C and severe sepsis outcomes

Status: Complete
Year: 2016
Funded: $98,680
Grant Type: Major Project Grant

Sepsis and septic shock are caused by a systemic inflammatory response to severe infection that results in multi-organ failure and refractory hypotension.

The incidence of severe sepsis is increasing and is the leading cause of mortality in critically ill patients. Preliminary data indicates that sepsis results in significant depletion of vitamin C levels and a recent Phase I study demonstrated that administration of vitamin C to patients with severe sepsis dramatically improved inflammatory biomarker levels and clinical outcome measures.

Vitamin C acts as a cofactor for numerous regulatory and biosynthetic enzymes, including those responsible for vasopressor synthesis. Therefore, we hypothesise that vitamin C administration will improve sepsis-related disorders such as hypotension through its enzyme cofactor activities.

This Phase II randomised controlled trial will assess the effects of vitamin C infusion on hypotension and vasopressor requirements, as well as markers of oxidative stress, inflammation and leukocyte activity, in patients with severe sepsis. The biochemical mechanisms of action will be determined by measuring a suite of clinically-relevant and novel cofactor activity biomarkers. Overall, this study will establish the efficacy of vitamin C in improving clinical outcomes in the critically ill. 

Researcher // Associate Professor Anitra Carr – University of Otago

Associate Professor Carr’s research speciality is the role of vitamin C in human health and disease. Associate Professor Carr has a background in biochemistry and biomedical research and now carries out translational ‘bench-to-bedside’ studies. She is currently running both observational and interventional studies investigating the bioavailability and health effects of vitamin C. She is particularly interested in the role of vitamin C in the prevention and treatment of acute and chronic diseases such as cancer and severe infection.

More About Associate Professor Anitra Carr

What is Vitamin C?

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid and l-ascorbic acid, is a vitamin found in various foods and sold as a dietary supplement. Vitamin C is an essential nutrient involved in the repair of tissue and the enzymatic production of certain neurotransmitters. It is required for the functioning of several enzymes and is important for immune system function.

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