Influences of calcium and magnesium ions on cellular antioxidant activity (CAA) determination

Food Chem. 2020 Aug 1;320:126625. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2020.126625. Epub 2020 Mar 16.


The cellular antioxidant activity (CAA) assay is wildly used for quantifying antioxidant activities of foods and dietary supplements in vitro. Among various incubation and handling buffers used in different laboratories, the inconsistence in concentrations of ions, particularly calcium and magnesium, has somehow been neglected. We hired the Hank's balanced salt solution with or without calcium and magnesium to perform CAA assay in Caco-2 cells and HepG2 cells, evaluating the impacts of these cations. The absence of calcium and magnesium reduced intracellular ROS level and underestimated the CAA of quercetin, Trolox and catechin. The abnormally high extracellular calcium and magnesium can also produce inaccurate results. Hank's buffer is recommended to ensure the accuracy and reproducibility. It elucidates precautions must be taken on these cations' concentrations of the buffers while conducting CAA determinations on different types of cells and when comparing foods and beverages with various calcium/magnesium contents.

Keywords: Calcium; Cellular antioxidant activity (CAA); Hank’s balanced salt solution (HBSS); Magnesium; Quantitative assay.

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Calcium / chemistry
  • Calcium / pharmacology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Humans
  • Magnesium / chemistry
  • Magnesium / pharmacology*
  • Quercetin
  • Reproducibility of Results


  • Antioxidants
  • Quercetin
  • Magnesium
  • Calcium