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, 9 (1), 1-32

How to Characterize a Biological Antioxidant


How to Characterize a Biological Antioxidant

B Halliwell. Free Radic Res Commun.


An antioxidant is a substance that, when present at low concentrations compared to those of an oxidizable substrate, significantly delays or prevents oxidation of that substrate. Many substances have been suggested to act as antioxidants in vivo, but few have been proved to do so. The present review addresses the criteria necessary to evaluate a proposed antioxidant activity. Simple methods for assessing the possibility of physiologically-feasible scavenging of important biological oxidants (superoxide, hydrogen peroxide, hydroxyl radical, hypochlorous acid, haem-associated ferryl species, radicals derived from activated phagocytes, and peroxyl radicals, both lipid-soluble and water-soluble) are presented, and the appropriate control experiments are described. Methods that may be used to gain evidence that a compound actually does function as an antioxidant in vivo are discussed. A review of the pro-oxidant and anti-oxidant properties of ascorbic acid that have been reported in the literature leads to the conclusion that this compound acts as an antioxidant in vivo under most circumstances.

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