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A new automated method for the determination of the Total Antioxidant Capacity (TAC) of human plasma, based on the crocin bleaching assay

Marilena Kampa1, Anastasia Nistikaki1, Vassilios Tsaousis3, Niki Maliaraki2, George Notas4 and Elias Castanas1*

Author affiliations

1 Laboratories of Experimental Endocrinology, University of Crete, School of Medicine, Heraklion, GR-71110, Greece

2 Clinical Chemistry University of Crete, School of Medicine, Heraklion, GR-71110, Greece

3 Medicon Hellas S.A., Gerakas, GR-15344, Greece

4 Gastroenterology, University of Crete, School of Medicine, Heraklion, GR-71110, Greece

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Citation and License

BMC Clinical Pathology 2002, 2:3  doi:10.1186/1472-6890-2-3

Published: 28 August 2002



Antioxidant molecules, which scavenge free radical species to prevent or delay oxidative damage of important macromolecules, membrane lipids and lipoproteins, are prevalent in plasma and other biological fluids. Among them, bilirubin, uric acid and protein thiols are the major endogenous antioxidants, while vitamins C and E, as well as a number of food-derived (poly)aromatic substances, belonging to stilbens, flavonoids and phenolic acids, are the main classes of nutritional antioxidants. Assays for total antioxidant capacity in plasma differ in their type of oxidation source, target and measurement used to detect the oxidized product.


In the present work we present an automated assay for the estimation of blood total antioxidant capacity (TAC assay), based on the crocin bleaching (oxidation) method. This method was adapted on a modern autoanalyzer, was linear over a wide range of values (0–3 mmol/L), and performed using an end point measurement.


The TAC method presented a linear correlation with another automated commercial Total Antioxidant Status (TAS) test. Detection of the interference of different metabolites revealed a significant participation of TAC from uric acid, bilirubin, albumin, a minor interference from ascorbic acid, and no interference from hemoglobin. TAC was not modified by two freeze/thawing cycles, and was stable in samples stored at room temperature for 4 hours. K-EDTA and heparin were the best anticoagulants, while citrate decreased TAC by 20%. Reference values derived from samples of normal blood donors was 1.175 ± 0.007 mmol/L (mean ± SEM), while a diet rich in antioxidants more than doubled this value.


The proposed TAC assay, is fully automated, stable and reliable, and could be of value in the estimation of the AC of plasma. It is further proposed to calculate the antioxidant capacity of plasma after a subtraction of all interference deriving from endogenous and/or exogenous metabolites. The antioxidant capacity of plasma thus calculated can be used as a useful indicator of the antioxidant value of foods and beverages in the daily diet.