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Ascorbic acid inhibits the migration of walker 256 carcinosarcoma cells


The results of several experimental studies have shown that ascorbic acid inhibits tumor growth and metastasis. Ascorbic acid is an antioxidant that acts as a scavenger for a wide range of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Both tumour metastasis and cell migration have been correlated with the intracellular ROS level, so it was postulated that the inhibitory effect of ascorbic acid derivatives on cell motility may be caused by scavenging of ROS. Time-lapse analyses of Walker 256 carcinosarcoma cell migration showed that both the speed of movement and the cell displacement were inhibited by ascorbic acid applied in concentrations ranging from 10 to 250 μM. This effect correlated with a reduction in the intracellular ROS level in WC 256 cells, suggesting that ROS scavenging may be a mechanism responsible for the inhibition of WC 256 cell migration. However, another potent antioxidant, N-acetyl-L-cysteine, also efficiently decreased the intracellular ROS level in WC 256 cells, but did not affect the migration of the investigated cells. These results demonstrate that intact, unmodified ascorbic acid applied in physiologically relevant and nontoxicconcentrations exerts an inhibitory effect on the migration of WC 256 carcinosarcoma cells, and that this may be one of the factors responsible for the anti-metastatic activity of vitamin C. However, our data does not support the hypothesis that the scavenging of intracellular ROS is the main mechanism in the inhibition of cancer cell migration by ascorbic acid.



ascorbic acid


2′,7′-dichlorofluorescein diacetate




phosphate buffered saline


reactive oxygen species

WC 256:

Walker 256 carcinosarcoma


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Correspondence to Zbigniew Madeja.

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Paper authored by participants of the international conference: XXXIV Winter School of the Faculty of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Biotechnology of Jagiellonian University, Zakopane, March 7–11, 2007, “The Cell and Its Environment”. Publication costs were covered by the organisers of this meeting.

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Wybieralska, E., Koza, M., Sroka, J. et al. Ascorbic acid inhibits the migration of walker 256 carcinosarcoma cells. Cell Mol Biol Lett 13, 103–111 (2008).

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Key words

  • Ascorbic acid
  • Cell migration
  • Metastasis
  • Reactive oxygen species