Actively metabolizing human erythrocytes catalyze the extracellular reduction of ferricyanide to ferrocyanide. Because neither of these anions can enter the cell, reducing equivalents generated in the course of glycolysis must in some manner be transferred across the cell membrane, thereby resulting in ferricyanide reduction. Work described in this paper suggests that the transmembrane reduction is effected by ascorbic acid. This compound in its oxidized form (dehydroascorbate) rapidly enters the cell. Here it obtains reducing equivalents which appear to come from NADH made available at the level of glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase. Once reduced, it leaves the cell as ascorbic acid and accomplishes the non-enzymatic reduction of ferricyanide.
E P Orringer, M E Roer