Clin Nutr. 2021 Sep 4;40(10):5327-5334. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2021.08.020. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND & AIMS: Previous observational studies have reported associations between plasma vitamin C levels, and cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) and Alzheimer’s disease (AD); however, no conclusive results have been obtained. We conducted a Mendelian randomization (MR) study to investigate the causality of vitamin C on the risk of nine CVDs [including coronary artery disease (CAD), myocardial infarction (MI), atrial fibrillation (AF), heart failure (HF), stroke, ischemic stroke (IS), and IS subtypes] and Alzheimer’s disease.
METHODS: Eleven single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) identified in a recent genome-wide meta-analysis (N = 52,018) were used as the instrumental variables for plasma vitamin C levels. The summary-level data for CVDs and AD were extracted from consortia and genome-wide association studies (GWAS). We performed MR analyses using the fixed-effects inverse-variance-weighted (IVW) method, weighted median, and MR-Egger approaches.
RESULTS: This MR study found suggestive evidence that genetic liability to higher vitamin C levels was associated with a lower risk of cardioembolic stroke [odds ratio (OR, presented per 1 standard deviation increase in plasma vitamin C levels) = 0.773; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.623-0.959; P = 0.020] and AD (OR = 0.968; 95% CI, 0.946-0.991; P = 0.007) using the fixed-effects IVW method. Sensitivity analysis yielded directionally similar results. A null-association was observed between vitamin C and the other CVDs.
CONCLUSION: Our MR study provided suggestive evidence that higher vitamin C levels were casually associated with a decreased risk of cardioembolic stroke and AD. No evidence was observed to suggest that vitamin C affected the risk of CAD, MI, AF, HF, stroke, IS, large artery stroke, or small vessel stroke. However, well-designed studies are warranted to confirm these results and determine the underlying mechanisms of the causal links.