Oxidative stress has been implicated in a wide variety of pathologies including Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, atherosclerosis, heart attack and cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and chronic fatigue syndrome. Oxidative stress also triggers a process called mitohormesis, which may play a significant role in normal aging. All of this results from a temporary imbalance between the formation and scavenging of reactive oxygen species (ROS, also known as “free radicals”). In vivo free radicals are a normal consequence of aerobic metabolism and are typically either removed or converted into other products by a complex system of specific enzymes and non-enzyme antioxidant compounds.

The capacity of a system to reduce or break down reactive oxygen species can be viewed as an indication of the system’s susceptibility to damage via oxidative stress.   Measuring this capacity can therefore facilitate the study of antioxidants and their effects on biological systems of various kinds. The FRAP (Ferric Reducing Antioxidant Power) assay uses FeIII complexed with a colored dye as an indicator for reductive potential. As the iron is reduced to FeII the complexed dye is released and can be measured via absorbance.

One area of ongoing oxidative stress research is the possibility that dietary antioxidants taken in from food might be able to reduce reactive oxygen species in the body and potentially protect from oxidative stress related damage. A number of so called “superfoods” have been demonstrated to contain higher than average levels of various antioxidant compounds. What remains to be conclusively proven is to what degree these exogenous antioxidants can influence the levels of reactive oxygen species in the body.  In a 2016 study, Sanguigni et al.1 sought to investigate this further by comparing the antioxidant levels (as determined by the Arbor Assays FRAP™ Detection Kit and other indicators) and oxidative stress markers between test subjects who ate antioxidant rich ice cream (containing dark cocoa, green tea and hazelnuts) and control subjects who ate the same amount of a standard commercial milk chocolate ice cream. Their results showed a statistical increase in antioxidant potential as well as a corresponding decrease in the oxidative stress markers measured. Demonstrating not only is ice cream a lovely way to reduce mental stress, but choosing foods high in antioxidants has the potential to reduce oxidative stress as well. A positive result all around!

The Arbor Assays DetectX® Ferric Reducing Antioxidant Power (FRAP) Detection Kit uses Iris Benzie’s exclusively licensed patented technology2 to quantitatively measure antioxidant potential of a variety of samples including serum, plasma, urine, food extracts, cosmetics etc. The assay is sensitive to <6 uM Fe2+ and can be completed in just 30 minutes.

                              Typical Standard Curve


  1. Sanguigni et al. (2016) Natural antioxidant ice cream acutely reduces oxidative stress and improves vascular function and physical performance in healthy subjects
  2. Benzie and Strain (1996) The Ferric Reducing Ability of Plasma (FRAP) as a Measure of “Antioxidant Power”: The FRAP Assay

Click here to see other publications on FRAP™ (Ferric Reducing Antioxidant Power) Detection Kit

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