Ascorbic acid supplementation, in several clinical cold-like viral illness studies, produced a modest reduction in severity and duration of symptoms. The current studies examined effects of ascorbic acid and hyperthermia (38.5°C) on PHA-stimulated transformation responsiveness of normal and influenza A virus-exposed human mononuclear leukocytes.

PHA responsiveness was significantly depressed by exposure to influenza virus (p <0.02), but enhanced by ascorbic acid (p <0.02) or hyperthermia (p <0.001). Neither ascorbic acid nor hyperthermia stimulated the mononuclear leukocytes in the absence of PHA. The adverse effect on PHA responsiveness caused by exposure to influenza virus was counteracted by ascorbic acid (p <0.005), hyperthermia (p <0.02), or both ascorbic acid and hyperthermia (p <0.001). Highly purified normal macrophages and lymphocytes were exposed independently to ascorbic acid or hyperthermia and tested for PHA responsiveness singly and together. Ascorbic acid, and probably hyperthermia, appeared to enhance macrophage function primarily. The data demonstrated that ascorbic acid and hyperthermia affected PHA-induced transformation responses of normal human mononuclear leukocytes, and counteracted the depression of PHA transformation responsiveness caused by exposure of the mononuclear leukocytes to influenza A virus.

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This work was presented in part at the Eighteenth Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, 1 to 4 October, 1978, Atlanta, Georgia.

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