A new concept of a basic mechanism involved in cell proliferation is presented. It is suggested that cells are normally restrained from proliferating by the highly viscous nature of the intercellular glycosaminoglycans. In order to proliferate, cells must escape from this restraint by depolymerizing the glycosaminoglycans in their immediate environment. This process is accomplished by the release of the enzyme hyaluronidase and is kept in check by physiological hyaluronidase inhibitor. There is some evidence that physiological hyaluronidase inhibitor is an oligoglycosaminoglycan that requires ascorbic acid for its synthesis, and perhaps incorporates residues of ascorbic acid. This hypothesis provides an explanation for the pathogenesis of scurvy. It explains the increased requirement for ascorbic acid that occurs in many cell proliferative diseases, including cancer. It indicates the existence of a basic underlying mechanism in many pathological states and suggests a common pattern of treatment. We conclude that ascorbic acid may have much greater therapeutic value than has been generally assigned to it.

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