Vitamin C preferentially kills Mycobacterium tuberculosis cells in the laboratory, reports a paper published in Nature Communications this week. Tuberculosis chemotherapy is lengthy and often not successful, particularly when the infection is caused by antimicrobial resistant strains. This work implies that supplementation of tuberculosis therapy with vitamin C may be beneficial as has been suggested in scientific reports published as early as the 1930s.
Bill Jacobs and colleagues show that, in comparison to other bacterial pathogens, M. tuberculosis is uniquely sensitive to vitamin C which kills the cells when in laboratory conditions. They find that the ability of vitamin C to kill the bacteria is due to the generation of reactive oxygen species within the bacterial cells and that the effect is evident in both antibiotic sensitive and resistant cells.
The researchers suggest that further research should be conducted to explore the potential of using vitamin C in tuberculosis chemotherapy.