Alzheimer's patients are five to 10 times more likely to suffer unprovoked seizures compared to healthy individuals. Alzheimer's patients often also have reduced levels of ascorbate, or vitamin C.
Ascorbate is an important antioxidant in the brain, particularly in the synapse, where it protects against oxidative stress. Ascorbate is released into the synapse as glutamate is cleared from the synapse, an exchange important for excitatory neurotransmission.
Fiona Harrison, Ph.D., and colleagues, investigated the role of ascorbate in susceptibility to seizures. Using genetically-modified mice that, like humans, depend on dietary ascorbate, they report that low ascorbate renders mice more susceptible to pharmacologically-induced seizures and alters the expression of several glutamate transporter genes. Even a single, mild seizure impacted memory in a mouse model for Alzheimer's disease.
The study published in Neurobiology of Aging supports the importance of brain ascorbate levels in protecting against seizures and cognitive decline in Alzheimer's disease.
Explore further: Scientists discover vitamin C regulates stem cell function, curbs leukemia development
Deborah J. Mi et al. Altered glutamate clearance in ascorbate deficient mice increases seizure susceptibility and contributes to cognitive impairment in APP/PSEN1 mice, Neurobiology of Aging (2018). DOI: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2018.08.002