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We previously showed that the intake of sesamin, a major lignan in sesame seed, decreased lipid peroxidation and elevated tocopherol concentration in rat tissues. In this study, we examined the effect of dietary sesame seed and sesamin on the ascorbic acid concentration in rat tissues. Rats (4-wk-old) were fed either a vitamin E-free diet, or a diet containing 50mg γ-tocopherol/kg, one containing 2g sesamin/kg, one containing 50mg γ-tocopherol/kg and 2g sesamin/kg, or one containing 200g sesame seed/kg for 28d. The dietary sesamin and sesame seed elevated ascorbic acid concentrations in the liver and kidney, and increased urinary excretion in those Wistar rats. The dietary sesamin also elevated the hepatic mRNA levels of cytochrome P450 (CYP) 2B, and UDP-glucuronosyltransferase (UGT) 1A and 2B. In contrast, neither the sesamin nor the sesame seed affected the liver concentration of ascorbic acid in ODS rats with a hereditary defect in ascorbic acid synthesis, though the dietary sesame seed elevated the UGT1A and 2B mRNA levels in the liver. In addition, the sesame seed elevated the γ-tocopherol concentration in the various ODS rat tissues and the ascorbic acid concentrations in the kidney, heart and lung, while reducing the thiobarbituric acid reactive substance concentration in the heart and kidney. These results suggest that dietary sesame seed and its lignan stimulate ascorbic acid synthesis as a result of the induction of UGT1A and the 2B-mediated metabolism of sesame lignan in rats. The data of ODS rat studies also suggest that dietary sesame seed enhances antioxidative activity in the tissues by elevating the levels of two antioxidative vitamins, vitamin C and E.