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Research Takeaway: Vitamin C Infusions and Interstitial Cystitis

Dr. Delgado's Takeaways

  • Biofilms are groups of microorganisms that attach to a surface and form a three-dimensional structure. This structure contains a protective polymeric matrix, which renders the biofilm highly resistant to antibiotics.

  • Biofilms reduce antibiotic penetration into bacterial cells.

  • One natural, non-toxic antibiotic alternative is vitamin C.

  • Vitamin C is a natural antioxidant that acts as an antibacterial and anti-biofilm agent alone or in combination with antibiotics.

  • Vitamin C can markedly improve the symptoms of UTIs — especially if the infection is caused by E. coli.

  • Higher doses of vitamin C (at least 2,000mg) are required daily to provide protection against adhesion and colonization of microbes.

  • For interstitial cystitis (IC) patients, vitamin C must be administered as a buffered oral or a vitamin C infusion.

Abstract — Antibacterial effect of vitamin C against uropathogenic E. coli in vitro and in vivo

Background: Resistance to antibiotics has increased steadily over time, thus there is a pressing need for safer alternatives to antibiotics. Current study aims to evaluate the influence of vitamin C as an antibacterial and anti-biofilm agent against uro-pathogenic E. coli (UPEC) strains. The expression of beta-lactamases and biofilm encoding genes among E. coli isolates before and after treating the isolates with sub MIC of vitamin C was analyzed by Real-time PCR. The in vivo assessment of the antibacterial and anti-biofilm effects of vitamin C against uropathogenic E. coli strains was done using a urinary tract infection (UTI) rat model.

Results: The effective concentration of vitamin C that could inhibit the growth of most study isolates (70%) was 1.25 mg/ml. Vitamin C showed a synergistic effect with most of the studied antibiotics; no antagonistic effect was detected at all. Vitamin C showed an excellent anti-biofilm effect against studied isolates, where 43 biofilm-producing isolates were converted to non-biofilm at a concentration of 0.312 mg/ml. The expression levels of most studied genes were down-regulated after treatment of E. coli isolates with vitamin C. In vivo assessment of vitamin C in treating UTIs showed that vitamin C has a rapid curative effect as the comparable antibiotic. Administration of both vitamin C and nitrofurantoin at a lower dose for treatment of UTI in rats had a better effect.

Conclusion: Vitamin C as an antibacterial and anti-biofilm agent either alone or in combination with antibiotics could markedly improve UTI in experimental rats.

Read the Study

Antibacterial effect of vit C against uropathogenic E Coli
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