Send to

Choose Destination
Comp Biochem Physiol B Biochem Mol Biol. 2007 May;147(1):110-21. Epub 2007 Jan 16.

Measuring circulating antioxidants in wild birds.

Author information

Department of Biology, R223 Research Building, University of Missouri St Louis, St Louis, MO 63121-4499, USA.

Erratum in

  • Comp Biochem Physiol B Biochem Mol Biol. 2008 Mar;149(3):540.


Antioxidants protect against free radical damage, which is associated with various age-related pathologies. Antioxidants are also an important buffer against the respiratory burst of the immune system. This protection presumably has costs and therefore might underlie important life-history trade-offs. Studying such trade-offs in a comparative context requires field-applicable methods for assessing antioxidant capacity in wild animals. Here, we present modifications to a simple spectrophotometric assay (the TEAC or TAS assay) that can be applied to miniscule amounts of blood plasma to determine circulating antioxidant capacity. Additionally, uric acid, the most abundant circulating antioxidant, should be measured independently. Uric acid in birds is derived from amino acid catabolism, perhaps incidentally to its antioxidant function. The assay was validated in experimental studies on chickens showing effects of diet on antioxidant capacity, and in field measurements on 92 species of birds, which demonstrate substantial species differences in constitutive antioxidant capacity. Furthermore, most wild birds demonstrate a dramatic change in antioxidant capacity due to stress. These results show that this technique detects variation appropriate for both interspecific and intraspecific studies, and that antioxidants and uric acid change in response to conditions of interest to field ecologists, such as diet and stress.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center