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Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2010 Mar;61(2):109-24. doi: 10.3109/09637480903292601.

ORAC and DPPH assay comparison to assess antioxidant capacity of tea infusions: relationship between total polyphenol and individual catechin content.

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Nutrition Division, R&D Central Research Laboratories, 1-3 Takaramachi, Taiyo Kagaku Co. Ltd, Yokkaichi, Mie 510-0844, Japan.


Commercially available tea infusions are the major source of catechins for preparing bottled tea beverages and tea supplements available in the market today. In the present study, we analyzed five tea infusions to measure the total antioxidant capacity (TAC) by oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) and 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) radical scavenging capacity (DRSC) assays, total polyphenol content by the colorimetric method and individual catechin content by high-performance liquid chromatography. Four major tea catechins were also analyzed for their TAC to reveal differential antioxidant behavior of the tea infusions, resulting in the ORAC and DRSC methods. The correlation coefficients between DRSC and the total polyphenol or total catechin content of the tea infusions were 1.0 and 0.99. However, the values fall to 0.73 and 0.69, respectively, while the ORAC activity was correlated with total polyphenol and total catechin content. Determining the TAC of individual tea catechins showed that ORAC of epicatechin was seven-fold higher than that of epigallocatechin gallate; on the contrary, epigallocatechin gallate showed significantly (P < 0.05) stronger DRSC activity than epicatechin. By evaluating the structure-activity relationship, this study further revealed that OH substitution at the 3' position in pyrogallol moieties contributes to the lower ORAC value of epigallocatechin and epigallocatechin gallate comparing with their non-3'-OH counterparts, such as epicatechin and epicatechin gallate, respectively. Also, numbers of OH substitutions were poorly correlated with the observed ORAC value unlike the DRSC. Overall, results of this study enabled us to hypothesize that substances having a lower TAC value in the ORAC assay compared with that in DPPH assays may pertain to a pro-oxidant effect by generating reactive oxygen species in an aqueous buffer, at a physiological pH. We also propose that substances exhibiting lower TAC value in the ORAC assay compared with that in the DPPH assay are powerful pro-oxidants compared with the substances showing a higher TAC value in the ORAC assay than that in the DPPH assay.

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