Supplementation with antioxidants fails to increase the total antioxidant capacity of several cell lines in culture

Erez Koren, Igor Zverev, Isaac Ginsburg, Ron Kohen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Low molecular weight antioxidants (LMWA) supplements are a popular and routine approach to assist the cell and the whole organism to cope with increasing oxidative stress. Numerous experiments have been conducted in which exogenous antioxidants were supplemented to cells, animals and humans to prevent and delay pathological disorders associated with reactive oxygen species. Recently, many meta-analysis publications have demonstrated the failure of this approach and in some cases even showed an increase in the severity of the disease and all-cause mortality. The reasons for the lack of success are not fully understood and the concept of antioxidant therapy is questionable. We suggest a new explanation concerning the way antioxidants function in the living cells that can elucidate some of the conflicting data published. The aim of this study was to examine the hypothesis that the overall antioxidant capacities of cells in culture remains constant and since the cells tightly regulate this antioxidant network, supplementation with exogenous antioxidants cannot enhance the total antioxidant capacity of the cells. This assumption was examined in HaCaT, Hep3B, PC3 and Caco-2 cells using several types of antioxidant supplements. It has been shown that while the levels of the specific administrated antioxidant increased significantly intracellularly, the overall antioxidant capacity of the cells as evaluated by various methods did not increase, and in some cases, even decreased. These results support the hypothesis and demonstrate that the total antioxidant capacity of these cells in culture is kept under tight regulation and cannot be enhanced by exogenous LMWA.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)179-188
Number of pages10
JournalBiomedicine and Pharmacotherapy
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study is supported by the Israel Science Foundation (grant no. 241/04) and by the Ydidut Foundation (Mexico). RK is affiliated with the David R. Bloom Center of Pharmacy.


  • Antioxidants
  • Intracellular antioxidant concentration
  • Low molecular weight antioxidants
  • Regulation
  • Supplementation
  • Total antioxidant capacity


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