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The main role of white blood cells is the removal of bacteria from sites of infection. When this job is done, however,
these cells must be removed in an efficient manner that prevents release of their toxic enzymes into the tissues.
These white cells often work under conditions where oxygen levels are low, and these low levels are thought to affect
their function, in particular the way in which they die and are cleared away. We have found that vitamin C deficiency
mimics these low oxygen conditions. The aim of this project therefore is to discover the mechanism by which these
cells die and are removed from area of infection when oxygen levels are low or when vitamin C is limiting.
We will work with purified human white cells and with cells that lack vitamin C and will measure their ability to kill
bacteria and to remain intact during clearance. These studies will give us good information on the effect of vitamin C
and the oxygenation of the tissues on the outcome of infection and inflammation.