British Journal of Nutrition

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Orange juice vs vitamin C: effect on hydrogen peroxide-induced DNA damage in mononuclear blood cells

Serena Guarnieria1 c1, Patrizia Risoa1 and Marisa Porrinia1

a1 Department of Food Science and Microbiology, Division of Human Nutrition, University of Milan, 20133 Milan, Italy

Article author query

Guarnieri S [PubMed]  [Google Scholar]
Riso P [PubMed]  [Google Scholar]
Porrini M [PubMed]  [Google Scholar]


The intake of fruits rich in vitamin C seems to increase the antioxidant defence of the organism. However, it is still not clear whether vitamin C alone is responsible for this effect. The aim of the present investigation was to study the effect of the intake of a single portion of blood orange juice (BOJ, 300 ml, providing 150 mg vitamin C) on mononuclear blood cell (MNBC) DNA damage, compared with a drink supplemented with the same amount of vitamin C (C-drink) or sugars (S-drink). Seven young healthy subjects were randomised in a repeated-measures design in which they received each drink on different occasions, 2 weeks apart. Blood samples were collected at baseline, every hour for 8 h, and at 24 h after the intake of each drink. Vitamin C was analysed at each time point by HPLC, whereas H2O2-induced MNBC DNA damage was evaluated at 0, 3 and 24 h by means of the comet assay. Plasma vitamin C concentration increased similarly following BOJ or C-drink intake and was not affected by the S-drink. DNA damage significantly decreased 3 h after BOJ intake (about 18 %; P < 0·01) and remained constant at 24 h (about 16 %; P < 0·01). No effect of the C-drink and S-drink was observed. In conclusion, the intake of a single portion of BOJ provided an early protection of MNBC against oxidative DNA damage; however, the protective effect of BOJ was not explained by vitamin C alone, thus other phytochemicals could be involved.

(Received June 29 2006)

(Revised October 27 2006)

(Accepted October 30 2006)

Key Words: Orange juice; Vitamin C; DNA damage; Plasma; Mononuclear blood cells


c1 Corresponding author: Dr Serena Guarnieri, fax +39 02 503 16071, email


Abbreviations: BOJ, blood orange juice; C-drink, water with added vitamin C; MNBC, mononuclear blood cell; S-drink, water with added sugars