Vitamin C measurement in critical illness: challenges, methodologies and quality improvements

Jake T.B. Collie, Ronda F. Greaves, Oliver A.H. Jones, Glenn Eastwood, Rinaldo Bellomo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleOtherpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Background There is renewed interest in high-dose vitamin C interventions in clinical medicine due to its antioxidant properties, safe use and cost-effectiveness. Yet, randomised control trials (RCTs) employing these interventions are failing to include robust analytical methodology and proper sample handling and processing techniques. Consequently, comparisons between studies becomes impossible as there is no metrological traceability and results may be prone to pre-analytical errors. Content Through published vitamin C stability studies, method comparison papers and data from vitamin C external quality assurance programs, an assessment was made on the functionality of current methods for critically ill patient samples. Summary Data was obtained from two external quality assurance programs, two papers assessing sample stability and interlaboratory agreement and a publication on vitamin C method comparisons. A shift from spectrophotometric and enzymatic methodologies to high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) greatly improved the variability and interlaboratory agreement. Therefore, the current analytical performance of vitamin C HPLC methodologies are acceptable for the requirements of a high-dose vitamin C RCTs. Outlook Recommendations across the total testing process of vitamin C have been provided to improve the quality of the results. The harmonisation of sample handling and processing procedures will further improve the reliability of current analytical methodologies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)460-470
Number of pages11
JournalClinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • ascorbic acid
  • critically ill
  • intensive care
  • measurement
  • vitamin C

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