Background: Ascorbic acid (AA) is an important endogenous antioxidant in plasma and has been shown to be decreased at the time of hospital admission in patients with acute pancreatitis. The aim of this study was to determine whether plasma AA concentration continues to decrease after admission and whether the extent of decrease is related to the severity of pancreatitis. Methods: Consecutive patients with mild (n = 62) and severe (n = 23) acute pancreatitis had plasma AA concentration measured on the day of recruitment and on days 2 and 5 by high-performance liquid chromatography. Results: The plasma AA concentration in patients with acute pancreatitis was significantly less than that in normal volunteers on days 0, 2 and 5 (P < 0.0001) and this was more marked in those with severe disease. There was a decrease in plasma AA concentration from day 0 to day 2 in patients with mild (P < 0.0001) and severe (P = 0.0005) pancreatitis, and from day 2 to day 5 in patients with severe pancreatitis (P = 0.023). Conclusion: Endogenous plasma AA continues to decrease over the first 5 days in hospital and the extent is related to the severity of acute pancreatitis.
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