Antioxidant Vitamins, Oxidant Injuries and Diseases

Yusuf Abba, Hasliza Abu Hassim, Hazilawati Hamzah, Mohamed Mustapha Noordin


Over the past few decades antioxidant vitamins have been shown to aid in disease prophylaxis as well as treatment. Deficiencies of these vitamins in diets have resulted in associated deficiency syndromes in both humans and animals. Since a handful of disease conditions is associated with imbalances of antioxidant enzymes such as catalase, superoxide dismutase, glutathione as well as increases in reactive oxygen species (ROS), nitrogen oxide species (NOS) and lipid per-oxidation markers such as malondialdehyde, supplementation with antioxidant vitamins has resulted in amelioration of oxidative damage and ultimately disease recession. Vitamins A, C and E together with compounds such as carotenoids have been extensively studied for their roles in disease modulation or exacerbation. However, while Vitamins C and E have been shown to have immense potentials in the alleviation of several conditions, Vitamin A and especially carotenoids had shown little or no use in conditions such as cardiovascular disease and cancer prevention. This review highlights the documented roles of these vitamins in disease prevention over the past few decades and the potentials that need to be explored further.

Full Text:



Albanes, D., Till, C., Klein, E. A., Goodman, P. J., Mondul, A. M., Weinstein, S. J., Song, X. (2014). Plasma tocopherols and risk of prostate cancer in the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT). Cancer Prevention Research, 7(9), 886-895.

Baker, D. H., & Wood, R. J. (1992). Cellular antioxidant status and human immunodeficiency virus replication. Nutrition Reviews, 50(1), 15-18.

Betanzos-Cabrera, G., Ramirez, F. J., Munoz, J. L., Barron, B. L., & Maldonado, R. (2004). Inactivation of HSV-2 by ascorbate-Cu(II) and its protecting evaluation in CF-1 mice against encephalitis. Journal of Virological Methods, 120(2), 161-165. doi:10.1016/j.jviromet.2004.05.003

Bjelakovic, G., Nikolova, D., Gluud, L. L., Simonetti, R. G., & Gluud, C. (2012). Antioxidant supplements for prevention of mortality in healthy participants and patients with various diseases. Cochrane Database Systemic Review, 3(3), 71-76.

Blokhina, O., Virolainen, E., & Fagerstedt, K. V. (2003). Antioxidants, oxidative damage and oxygen deprivation stress: a review. Annals of Botany, 91 Spec No, 179-194.

Brigelius-Flohé, R., &

Davies, K. J. A. (2007). Is vitamin E an antioxidant, a regulator of signal transduction and gene expression, or a ‘junk’ food? Comments on the two accompanying papers: “Molecular mechanism of α-tocopherol action” by A. Azzi and “Vitamin E, antioxidant and nothing more” by M. Traber and J. Atkinson. Free Radical Biology and Medicine, 43(1), 2-3. doi:

Brinkevich, S. D., Boreko, E. I., Savinova, O. V., Pavlova, N. I., & Shadyro, O. I. (2012). Radicalregulating and antiviral properties of ascorbic acid and its derivatives. Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry Letters, 22(7), 2424-2427. doi:10.1016/j.bmcl.2012.02.022

Cheng, L. L., Liu, Y. Y., Li, B., Li, S. Y., & Ran, P. X. (2012). An in vitro study on the pharmacological ascorbate treatment of influenza virus. Zhonghua Jie He He Hu Xi Za Zhi, 35(7), 520-523. Cinatl, J.,

Cinatl, J., Weber, B., Rabenau, H., Gumbel, H. O., Chenot, J. F., & Doerr, H. W. (1995). In vitro inhibition of human cytomegalovirus replication in human foreskin fibroblasts and endothelial cells by ascorbic acid 2-phosphate. Antiviral Research, 27(4), 405-418.

Cook, N. R., Albert, C. M., Gaziano, J. M., Zaharris, E., MacFadyen, J., Danielson, E., & Manson, J. E. (2007). A randomized factorial trial of vitamins C and E and beta carotene in the secondary prevention of cardiovascular events in women: results from the Women's Antioxidant Cardiovascular Study. Archives of Internal Medicine, 167(15), 1610-1618.

Dal-Pizzol, F., Klamt, F., Benfato, M. S., Bernard, E. A., & Moreira, J. C. F. (2001). Retinol supplementation induces oxidative stress and modulates antioxidant enzyme activities in rat Sertoli cells. Free Radical Research, 34(4), 395-404. doi:doi:10.1080/10715760100300331 PJSRR (2015) 1(1): 58-66 © School of Graduate Studies, Universiti Putra Malaysia

Dalirani, R., Yousefi Zoshk, M., Sharifian, M., Mohkam, M., Karimi, A., Fahimzad, A., & Varzandefar, M. (2011). Role of vitamin A in preventing renal scarring after acute pyelonephritis. Iranian Journal of Kidney Disease, 5(5), 320-323.

Gorton, H. C., & Jarvis, K. (1999). The effectiveness of vitamin C in preventing and relieving the symptoms of virus-induced respiratory infections. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 22(8), 530-533.

Halliwell, B. (2001). Free radical reactions in human disease. Oxidative Stress and Disease, 7, 1-16.

Halliwell, B., & Whiteman, M. (2004). Measuring reactive species and oxidative damage in vivo and in cell culture: how should you do it and what do the results mean? British Journal of Pharmacology, 142(2), 231-255.

Harabawy, A. S. A., & Mosleh, Y. Y. I. (2014). The role of vitamins A, C, E and selenium as antioxidants against genotoxicity and cytotoxicity of cadmium, copper, lead and zinc on erythrocytes of Nile tilapia, Oreochromis niloticus. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, 104(0), 28-35. doi:

Iqbal, K., Khan, A., & Khattak, M. (2004). Biological significance of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) in human health-a review. Pakistan Journal of Nutrition, 3(1), 5-13.

Kirac, D., Negis, Y., & Ozer, N. K. (2013). Vitamin E attenuates homocysteine and cholesterol induced damage in rat aorta. Cardiovascular Pathology, 22(6), 465-472. doi:10.1016/j.carpath.2013.03.007

Klein, E. A., Thompson, I. M., Tangen, C. M., Crowley, J. J., Lucia, M. S., Goodman, P. J., & Gaziano, J. M. (2011). Vitamin E and the risk of prostate cancer: the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT). The Journal of American Medical Association, 306(14), 1549-1556.

Krueger, L. A., Beitz, D. C., Onda, K., Osman, M., O'Neil, M. R., Lei, S., & Nonnecke, B. (2014). Effects of d-alpha-tocopherol and dietary energy on growth and health of preruminant dairy calves. Journal of Dairy Science, 97(6), 3715-3727. doi:10.3168/jds.2013-7315

Lee, I.-M., Cook, N. R., Gaziano, J. M., Gordon, D., Ridker, P. M., Manson, J. E., .&. Buring, J. E. (2005). Vitamin E in the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease and cancer: the Women’s Health Study: a randomized controlled trial. The Journal of American Medical Association, 294(1), 56-65.

Li, W., Maeda, N., & Beck, M. A. (2006). Vitamin C deficiency increases the lung pathology of influenza Virus–Infected gulo−/− mice. The Journal of Nutrition, 136(10), 2611-2616.

Li, Y., & Schellhorn, H. E. (2007). New developments and novel therapeutic perspectives for vitamin C. The Journal of Nutrition, 137(10), 2171-2184.

Lippman, S. M., Klein, E. A., Goodman, P. J., Lucia, M. S., Thompson, I. M., Ford, L. G., Coltman, C. A (2009). Effect of selenium and vitamin e on risk of prostate cancer and other cancers: The selenium and vitamin e cancer prevention trial (select). The Journal of American Medical Association, 301(1), 39-51. doi:10.1001/jama.2008.864

Lukic, M., Segec, A., Segec, I., Pinotic, L., Pinotic, K., Atalic, B., Solic, K., & Vcev, A. (2012). The impact of the vitamins A, C and E in the prevention of gastroesophageal reflux disease, Barrett's oesophagus and oesophageal adenocarcinoma. Collegium Antropologicum, 36(3), 867-872.

Madhusudana, S. N., Shamsundar, R., & Seetharaman, S. (2004). In vitro inactivation of the rabies virus by ascorbic acid. International Journal of Infectious Disease, 8(1), 21-25.

Mahmoud, K. Z., & Hijazi, A. A. (2007). Effect of vitamin A and/or E on plasma enzymatic antioxidant systems and total antioxidant capacity of broiler chickens challenged with carbon tetrachloride. Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition, 91(7-8), 333-340. doi:JPN659 [pii] 10.1111/j.1439-0396.2006.00659.x [doi]

Mayne, S. T. (1996). Beta-carotene, carotenoids, and disease prevention in humans. The FASEB Journal, 10(7), 690-701.

Montecinos, V., Guzmán, P., Barra, V., Villagrán, M., Muñoz-Montesino, C., Sotomayor, K., Sotomayor, P., & Vera, J.C. (2007). Vitamin C is an essential antioxidant that enhances survival of oxidatively stressed human vascular endothelial cells in the presence of a vast molar excess of glutathione. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 282(21), 15506-15515.

Myung, S.-K., Ju, W., Cho, B., Oh, S.-W., Park, S. M., Koo, B.-K., & Park, B.-J. (2013). Efficacy of vitamin and antioxidant supplements in prevention of cardiovascular disease: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. British Medical Journal, 346, f10, 1-22

Niki, E. (2014). Role of vitamin E as a lipid-soluble peroxyl radical scavenger: in vitro and in vivo evidence. Free Radical Biology and Medicine, 66, 3-12.

Omenn, G. S., Goodman, G. E., Thornquist, M. D., Balmes, J., Cullen, M. R., Glass, A., . . . Williams Jr, J. H. (1996). Effects of a combination of beta carotene and vitamin A on lung cancer and cardiovascular disease. New England Journal of Medicine, 334(18), 1150-1155.

Packer, L. (1991). Protective role of vitamin E in biological systems. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 53(4), 1050S-1055S.

Padayatty, S. J., Katz, A., Wang, Y., Eck, P., Kwon, O., Lee, J.-H., Dutta, S. K., & Levine, M (2003). Vitamin C as an antioxidant: evaluation of its role in disease prevention. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 22(1), 18-35.

Palace, V. P., Khaper, N., Qin, Q., & Singal, P. K. (1999). Antioxidant potentials of vitamin A and carotenoids and their relevance to heart disease. Free Radic Biol Med, 26(5-6), 746-761.

Park, S. (2013). The effects of high concentrations of vitamin C on cancer cells. Nutrients, 5(9), 3496- 3505.

Paul, M. V., Abhilash, M., Varghese, M. V., Alex, M., & Nair, R. H. (2012). Protective effects of alpha-tocopherol against oxidative stress related to nephrotoxicity by monosodium glutamate in rats. Toxicol Mech Methods, 22(8), 625-630. doi:10.3109/15376516.2012.714008

Rao, A., & Rao, L. G. (2007). Carotenoids and human health. Pharmacological Research, 55(3), 207- 216.

Rapola, J. M., Virtamo, J., Haukka, J. K., & et al. (1996). Effect of vitamin e and beta carotene on the incidence of angina pectoris: A randomized, double-blind, controlled trial. The Journal of American Medical Association, 275(9), 693-698. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03530330037026

Ryan, M. J., Dudash, H. J., Docherty, M., Geronilla, K. B., Baker, B. A., Haff, G. G., & Alway, S. E. (2010). Vitamin E and C supplementation reduces oxidative stress, improves antioxidant enzymes and positive muscle work in chronically loaded muscles of aged rats. Experimental Gerontology, 45(11), 882-895.

Shirpoor, A., Norouzi, L., Khadem Ansari, M. H., Ilkhanizadeh, B., & Gharaaghaji, R. (2013). Vasoprotective effect of vitamin E: rescue of ethanol-induced atherosclerosis and inflammatory stress in rat vascular wall. International Immunopharmacology, 16(4), 498-504. doi:10.1016/j.intimp.2013.04.024

Sobouti, B., Hooman, N., & Movahed, M. (2013). The effect of vitamin E or vitamin A on the prevention of renal scarring in children with acute pyelonephritis. Pediatric Nephrology, 28(2), 277-283. doi:10.1007/s00467-012-2308-4

Tanvetyanon, T., & Bepler, G. (2008). Beta‐carotene in multivitamins and the possible risk of lung cancer among smokers versus former smokers. Cancer, 113(1), 150-157.

Tasanarong, A., Vohakiat, A., Hutayanon, P., & Piyayotai, D. (2013). New strategy of alpha- and gamma-tocopherol to prevent contrast-induced acute kidney injury in chronic kidney disease patients undergoing elective coronary procedures. Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation, 28(2), 337-344. doi:10.1093/ndt/gfs525

Traber, M. G., & Atkinson, J. (2007). Vitamin E, antioxidant and nothing more. Free Radical Biology and Medicine, 43(1), 4-15.

Virtamo, J., Taylor, P. R., Kontto, J., Mannisto, S., Utriainen, M., Weinstein, S. J., &. Albanes, D. (2014). Effects of alpha-tocopherol and beta-carotene supplementation on cancer incidence and mortality: 18-year postintervention follow-up of the Alpha-tocopherol, Beta-carotene Cancer Prevention Study. International Journal of Cancer, 135(1), 178-185. doi:10.1002/ijc.28641

White, L. A., Freeman, C. Y., Forrester, B. D., & Chappell, W. A. (1986). In vitro effect of ascorbic acid on infectivity of herpesviruses and paramyxoviruses. Journal of Clinical Microbiology, 24(4), 527-531.

Wu, C., Dorairajan, T., & Lin, T. (2000). Effect of ascorbic acid supplementation on the immune response of chickens vaccinated and challenged with infectious bursal disease virus. Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology, 74(1), 145-152.

Yang, C. S., Suh, N., & Kong, A. N. (2012). Does vitamin E prevent or promote cancer? Cancer Prevention Research, 5(5), 701-705. doi:10.1158/1940-6207.capr-12-0045

Zaidi, S., & Banu, N. (2004). Antioxidant potential of vitamins A, E and C in modulating oxidative stress in rat brain. Clinica Chimica Acta, 340(1), 229-233.

Zaidi, S. M., Al-Qirim, T. M., & Banu, N. (2005). Effects of antioxidant vitamins on glutathione depletion and lipid peroxidation induced by restraint stress in the rat liver. Drugs in R & D, 6(3), 157-165. doi:634 [pii]


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

The Pertanika Journal of Scholarly Research Reviews, (e-ISSN: 2462-2028, ISSN: 2636-9141) published by Universiti Putra Malaysia Press