Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Metabolic Availability of Vitamin C in the Guinea-pig


THE results of studies in which L-gulonolactone-1-14C, the precursor of L-ascorbic acid in the rat, was administered to guinea-pigs showed that the guinea-pig is apparently unable to synthesize vitamin C1–3. This has been attributed to the absence of gulonolactone oxidase from the liver microsomes of the guinea-pig; because this enzyme is the last one in the series for converting glucose to ascorbic acid it completely blocks endogenous synthesis. Synthesis of ascorbic acid has been demonstrated in rats: gulonolactone oxidase is present in their livers4–6. A defect, probably a conditional lethal mutation7, in the gene controlling the synthesis of this enzyme in guinea-pigs produces an inactive enzyme or its complete absence. They are therefore dependent on exogenous vitamin C. This genetic disease has been named hypoascorbemia because of the low levels of ascorbic acid in the blood which are pathognomonic of the condition8. Neither the sex nor the age of the animals in these experiments was stated, and there was no indication of the state of ascorbic acid tissue saturation or of the scorbutic condition of the guinea-pigs.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Prices vary by article type



Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout


  1. Burns, J. J., Peyser, P., and Maltz, A., Science, 124, 1148 (1956).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. Hassan, U., and Lehninger, A. L., J. Biol. Chem., 223, 123 (1956).

    Google Scholar 

  3. Chatterjee, I. B., Chatterjee, G. C., Ghosh, N. C., Ghosh, J. J., and Guha, B. C., Biochemistry, 74, 193 (1960).

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. Horowitz, H. H., and King, C. G., J. Biol. Chem., 200, 125 (1953).

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. Burns, J. J., and Evans, C., J. Biol. Chem., 200, 125 (1953).

    Google Scholar 

  6. Isherwood, F. A., Mapson, L. W., and Chen, Y. T., Biochem. J., 76, 157 (1960).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Gluecksohn-Waelsch, S., Science, 142, 1269 (1963).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. Stone, I., Perspect. Biol. Med., 10, 133 (1966).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Todhunter, E. N., and McMillan, T. J., J. Nutr., 31, 573 (1946).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Ehme, D. A., Davey, B. L., and Todhunter, E. N., J. Nutr., 58, 281 (1956).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Stubbs, D. W., and McKernan, J. B., Proc. Soc. Exp. Biol., 125, 1326 (1967).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  12. Sasmal, N., Kar, N. C., Mukherjee, D., and Chatterjee, G. C., Indian J. Biochem., 6, 96 (1969).

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  13. Williams, R. J., and Deason, G., Proc. US Nat. Acad. Sci, 57, 1638 (1967).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  14. Grollman, A. P., and Lehninger, A. L., Arch. Biochem. Biophys., 69, 458 (1957).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  15. Burns, J. J., Amer. J. Med., 740 (1959).

  16. Stone, I., Amer. J. Phys. Anthrop., 23, 83 (1965).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  17. Hughes, R. E., and Hurley, R. J., Brit. J. Nutr., 23, 211 (1969).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  18. Odumosu, A., and Wilson, C. W. M., Brit. J. Pharmacol., 40, 171P (1970).

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  19. Odumosu, A., and Wilson, C. W. M., Brit. J. Pharmacol., 40, 548P (1970).

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  20. Loh, H. S., and Wilson, C. W. M., Intern. J. Vit. Nutr. Res., 41, 90 (1971).

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  21. Nakajima, Y., Shantha, T. R., and Bourne, G. H., Histochemie, 18, 293 (1969).

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  22. Odumosu, A., and Wilson, C. W. M., Brit. J. Pharmacol., 42, 637P (1971).

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  23. Hodges, J. R., and Hotston, R. T., Brit. J. Pharmacol., 40, 740 (1970).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  24. Odumosu, A., and Wilson, C. W. M., Brit. J. Nutr. Proceedings (in the press).

  25. Cohen, R. B., Proc. Soc. Exp. Biol., 106, 309 (1961).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  26. Loh, H. S., and Wilson, C. W. M., Intern. J. Vit. Nutr. Res. (1971).

  27. Wilson, C. W. M., Vitamin Documentation, 3 (Hoffman-La Roche, Basle, in the press).

  28. Ginter, E., Bobeck, P., Gerbelova, M., Ondreika, R., and Bilisics, L., Physiologia Biochemoslovencia, 14, 282 (1965).

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  29. Wilson, C. W. M., and Loh, H. S., Irish J. Med. Sci., 2, 396 (1969).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Loh, H. S., and Wilson, C. W. M., Brit. J. Pharmacol., 40, 566P (1970).

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  31. Wilson, C. W. M., Chronobiology: Proc. Intern. Soc. Study of Biological Rhythms (edit. by Scheving, L. E., Halberg, F., and Pauly, J. E.) (Igaku Shoin, Tokyo, in the press).

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

ODUMOSU, A., WILSON, C. Metabolic Availability of Vitamin C in the Guinea-pig. Nature 242, 519–521 (1973).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing