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J Med Food. 2010 Feb;13(1):223-7. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2008.0257.

Oxygen radical absorbance capacity of phycocyanin and phycocyanobilin from the food supplement Aphanizomenon flos-aquae.

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Department of Biomolecular Sciences, University of Urbino Carlo Bo, Urbino, Italy.


The oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) assay has been widely used to quantify peroxyl radical scavenging capacity of pure antioxidant compounds and antioxidant plant/food extracts. However, it has never been applied to natural compounds derived from microalgae-based dietary supplements, namely, phycocyanin (PC) and phycocyanobilin (PCB), for which a strong radical scavenger activity has been documented. In this article, we applied the ORAC method to investigate the capacity of PC and PCB purified from the edible microalga Aphanizomenon flos-aquae to directly quench peroxyl radicals in comparison to well-known antioxidants molecules such as Trolox, ascorbic acid, and reduced glutathione. As a result, PCB was found to have the highest ORAC value (22.18 micromol of Trolox/micromol of compound), comparable to that of PC (20.33 micromol of Trolox/micromol of compound), hence confirming that PCB is mostly responsible for the scavenger activity of PC and making the protein a possible source of the antioxidant in vivo. Our data further corroborate the use of these natural compounds from A. flos-aquae as dietary antioxidant supplements in the treatment of clinical conditions related to oxidative stress.

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