Ascorbic acid rescues cardiomyocyte development in Fgfr1(-/-) murine embryonic stem cells.
Harvard had reported that only ascorbic acid (out of 880 substances tested) converted mouse stem cells into heart muscle cells. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/04/030401073122.htm
I do not claim to understand this abstract completely, but there are quite a few very interesting statments, e.g.
Among them, only the reduced form of vitC, l-ascorbic acid, was able to recover beating cell differentiation in Fgfr1(-/-) mESC.
In the attempt to elucidate the mechanism of action of vitC on Fgfr1(-/-) mESC, we analyzed several parameters related to the intracellular redox state, such as reactive oxygen species content, Nox4 expression, and superoxide dismutase activity. The results did not show any relationship between the antioxidant capacity of vitC and cardiomyocyte differentiation in Fgfr1(-/-) mESC. No correlation was found also for the ability of vitC to modulate the expression of pluripotency genes.
Then, we tested the hypothesis that vitC was acting as a prolyl hydroxylase cofactor by maintaining iron in a reduced state.