Vitamin C can enhance tuberculosis treatment

The study conducted on mice and on tissue cultures suggest that giving Vitamin C -- a powerful antioxidant that reduces oxidative stress to the body and also lowers cancer risk -- with TB drugs could reduce the unusually long time it takes these drugs to eradicate this pathogen.  

Vitamin C can enhance tuberculosis treatment
Representational image

New York: For people suffering from tuberculosis (TB), including foods rich in Vitamin C such as bell peppers, dark leafy greens, broccoli, kiwifruit, berries and oranges in the diet along with regular medication can enhance treatment and enable a faster recovery, suggests a study.

TB is one of the world's deadliest diseases, with one third of the global population infected. In 2016, it affected 10.4 million people around the world and caused 1.7 million deaths. 

The study conducted on mice and on tissue cultures suggest that giving Vitamin C -- a powerful antioxidant that reduces oxidative stress to the body and also lowers cancer risk -- with TB drugs could reduce the unusually long time it takes these drugs to eradicate this pathogen.

"Our study shows that the addition of Vitamin C to TB drug treatment potentiates the killing of bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) and could shorten TB chemotherapy," said lead investigator William R. Jacobs, from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.

That's important because treatment of drug susceptible TB takes six months, "resulting in some treatment mismanagement, potentially leading to the emergence and spread of drug-resistant TB", Jacobs added.

In the study, published in the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, the team treated MTB-infected mice with anti-TB drugs or vitamin C alone, or the drugs and vitamin C together.

Vitamin C had no activity by itself, but in two independent experiments, the combination of Vitamin C with the first-line TB drugs, isoniazid and rifampicin, reduced the organ burdens faster than the two drugs without vitamin C, said Catherine J. Vilcheze, at the varsity. 

Experiments in infected tissue cultures demonstrated similar results, shortening the time to sterilisation of the tissue culture by seven days.

"Vitamin C is known to be safe and our current mouse studies suggest that Vitamin C could enhance TB chemotherapy," Jacobs said. 

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