Vitamin C: A Natural Inhibitor of Cell Wall Functions and Stress Response in Mycobacteria

  • Kirtimaan Syal
  • Dipankar ChatterjiEmail author
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 1112)


Tuberculosis, caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, has re-emerged as a threat to human race. Conventional antibiotic treatments are failing due to different stress response strategies adopted by bacterial pathogens. Since time immemorial, Vitamin C is known to protect against pathogens by boosting immunity in humans. Recently, Vitamin C has been shown to directly kill M. tuberculosis including multiple drug-resistant strains by generation of oxidative radicals through Fenton’s reaction. Concurrently, it inhibits (p)ppGpp-mediated stringent response thus effectively shutting down long-term survival and persistence in mycobacteria. Here, we have discussed historical perspective and recent evidences on Vitamin C-mediated inhibition of several key pathways of M. tuberculosis such as (p)ppGpp synthesis and mycobacterial cell wall function. Several cell wall components including mycolic acids are critical for mycobacterial virulence. We observed downregulation of various mycolic acids in M. smegmatis upon treatment with Vitamin C, and data have been presented here. Vitamin C has been shown to inhibit the biofilm growth as well as disrupt the formed biofilm in mycobacteria. Additionally, Vitamin C role in cell-mediated and humoral immunity has been elucidated. Vitamin C is toxic at high concentration; therefore we have proposed the idea of derivatizing Vitamin C in order to lower the minimal inhibition concentration (MIC) necessary to target M. tuberculosis.


Vitamin C (p)ppGpp Biofilm formation Immune response Oxidative radicals Mycobacteria Mycolic acid 



Guanosine tetraphosphate or guanosine pentaphosphate


Complement component 1, q subcomponent


Multidrug resistant

NK cells

Natural killer cells


Release factor 3


RNA polymerase


Reactive nitrogen species


Reactive oxygen species


Thin-layer chromatography


Extensively drug resistant



Authors acknowledge the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, and Department of Biotechnology, Government of India, for funding the laboratory.


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Molecular Biophysics UnitIndian Institute of ScienceBangaloreIndia

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