Artifacts in cell culture: rapid generation of hydrogen peroxide on addition of (-)-epigallocatechin, (-)-epigallocatechin gallate, (+)-catechin, and quercetin to commonly used cell culture media

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2000 Jun 24;273(1):50-3. doi: 10.1006/bbrc.2000.2895.


There is considerable current interest in the possible beneficial health effects of quercetin, catechins, epigallocatechins, epigallocatechin gallates, and related phenolic compounds found in teas, wines, and other plant products. As a result, many laboratories are studying the effects of these compounds on cells in culture. The present paper shows that addition of these compounds to commonly used cell culture media leads to generation of substantial amounts of hydrogen peroxide (H(2)O(2)). Dulbecco's modified Eagle medium gives the highest H(2)O(2) level for all the compounds tested, with levels reaching >400 microM within 2 h for addition of 1 mM concentrations of gallic acid, epigallocatechin gallate, and epigallocatechin. Catechin and quercetin produced lower, but still significant, levels of H(2)O(2). McCoy's 5A and RPMI 1640 media also promoted H(2)O(2) production from the above phenolic compounds. This rapid generation of H(2)O(2) could account for some or all of the reported effects of phenolic compounds on cells in culture.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Artifacts*
  • Catechin / analogs & derivatives
  • Catechin / metabolism*
  • Catechin / pharmacology
  • Cell Culture Techniques / methods
  • Culture Media / chemistry
  • Culture Media / metabolism*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Flavonoids / metabolism*
  • Flavonoids / pharmacology
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / analysis
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / metabolism*
  • Quercetin / metabolism*
  • Quercetin / pharmacology
  • Time Factors


  • Culture Media
  • Flavonoids
  • Catechin
  • Quercetin
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • epigallocatechin gallate
  • gallocatechol