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Vanderbilt University Medical Center
7435 MRB IV
Nashville, TN 37232

office: (615) 936-1661
lab: (615) 936-1660
fax: (615) 936-1667

    The main research focus of the May lab is the study of the transport and function of vitamin C including its antioxidant effects in a variety of cell and animal models. The laboratory has long been active in the study of how vitamin C is taken up, maintained in a reduced form, and how it protects cells against oxidant stress. In the last several years, the effort has targeted the early stages of atherosclerosis, especially related to endothelial dysfunction and the ability of the vitamin to enhance release and function of nitric oxide. More recently, efforts have turned to testing whether the vitamin also plays a role in inhibiting the atherosclerotic process in other cells, including macrophages and vascular smooth muscle cells. The central hypothesis in this work is that the vitamin C transporter is crucial for maintaining high intracellular concentrations of this vitamin. Other functions of vitamin C besides those related to antioxidant mechanisms are also explored, including its role in cell proliferation, differentiation, and collagen formation. Current research programs include the transport of vitamin C in the brain via the specific Sodium Vitamin C Transporter - type 2 (SVCT2). Mice that are null for SVCT2 (SVCT2 knockout mice) die at birth and suffer from a number of changes in the brain including severe hemorrhage. Lack of vitamin C causes a state of oxidative stress in cells and organs and further research investigates changes in oxidative status as a result of genetic and dietary manipulations. The role of vitamin C and its transport is investigated in terms of different disease states such as atherosclerosis, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease.