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Effect of high dose vitamin C on Epstein-Barr viral infection

Effect of high dose vitamin C on Epstein-Barr viral infection | audam |

There has been very little success treating acute EBV infection and mononucleosis with drugs. Corticosteroids may be helpful in treating complications of infectious mononucleosis including central nervous system involvement, myocarditis, tonsillar enlargement causing airway obstruction, and hemolytic anemia. However, a double-blind study showed that acyclovir had no significant effect on symptoms of EBV-related infectious mononucleosis. The combination of acyclovir and prednisolone did not affect the symptom duration or development of specific cellular immunity against EBV.


Our data provide evidence that high dose (7.5 to 50 grams) intravenous vitamin C therapy may have a positive effect on disease duration and may reduce viral antibody levels. This is, to our knowledge, the first clinical study of ascorbic acid and EBV infection. The reduction in EBV EA IgG and EBV VCA IgM antibody levels over time during IVC therapy is consistent with observations from the literature that millimolar levels of ascorbate hinder viral infection and replication in vitro. The benefit seems to be dependent upon the number of IVC treatments given, as patients given five or more IVCs had significantly greater reduction in EBV EA IgG when compared to untreated controls. We also can confirm observations that relate vitamin C depletion to EBV infection. The possible mechanisms for this involve the effect of viral infection on cellular glucose uptake rates and increased oxidative stress. Viruses are thought to increase cellular expression of the glucose transporter: this in turn would increase the rate of ascorbic acid uptake into the cell, since ascorbic acid enters cells as dehydroascorbate via these same glucose transporters.


Another important finding is the potential role of vitamin D in reducing viral antibody levels. Vitamin D has an important “non-classic” influence on the body’s immune system by modulating the innate and adaptive immune system, influencing the production of important endogenous antimicrobial peptides such as cathelicidin, and regulating the inflammatory cascade. Vitamin D may modulate the production of cytokines, suppressing inflammation, and reduce the severity of viral infection. Multiple epidemiological studies in adults and children have demonstrated that vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased risk and greater severity of infection, particularly of the respiratory tract. Cell culture experiments support the thesis that vitamin D has direct anti-viral effects particularly against enveloped viruses. It may be worth exploring the combination of vitamin D with vitamin C and other antioxidants in treating EBV infected subjects.

Via Jonathan Middleton
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