TitleRelevance of apple polyphenols as antioxidants in human plasma: contrasting in vitro and in vivo effects.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsLotito SB, Frei B
JournalFree Radic Biol Med
Date Published2004 Jan 15
KeywordsAmidines, Antioxidants, Diet, Flavonoids, Humans, Malus, Oxidation-Reduction, Phenols, Plant Extracts, Plasma, Polyphenols

Apples are a major source of flavonoids in the Western diet, and flavonoid-rich foods may help protect against chronic diseases by antioxidant mechanisms. In the present study we investigated: (1) the antioxidant capacity of representative apple polyphenols and their contribution to the total antioxidant capacity of apple extracts; (2) the effects of adding apple extract to human plasma in vitro on oxidation of endogenous antioxidants and lipids; and (3) the effects of apple consumption by humans on ex vivo oxidation of plasma antioxidants and lipids. We found that the apple-contained flavonols and flavanols, quercetin, rutin, (-)-epicatechin, and (+)-catechin, had a higher antioxidant capacity than the dihydrochalcones, phloridzin and phloretin, and the hydroxycinnamate, chlorogenic acid. However, together these apple polyphenols contributed less than 20% to the total antioxidant capacity of aqueous apple extracts. When human plasma was exposed to a constant flux of aqueous peroxyl radicals, endogenous ascorbate (70.0 +/- 10.3 microM) was oxidized within 45 min of incubation, while endogenous urate (375 +/- 40 microM) and alpha-tocopherol (24.7 +/- 1.2 microM) were oxidized after ascorbate. Addition of 7.1 or 14.3 micrograms/ml total phenols of apple extract did not protect ascorbate from oxidation, but increased the half-life (t1/2) of urate from 136 +/- 15 to 192 +/- 16 and 208 +/- 23 min, respectively (p < 0.05 each), and t1/2 of alpha-tocopherol from 141 +/- 18 to 164 +/- 8 min (p = ns) and 188 +/- 8 min (p < 0.05). Lipid peroxidation started after ascorbate depletion, and addition of apple extract increased the lag time preceding detectable lipid peroxidation from 36.3 +/- 3.7 to 50.9 +/- 2.7 min (p < 0.05) and 70.4 +/- 4.2 min (p < 0.001). However, when six healthy volunteers ate five apples and plasma was obtained up to 4 h after apple consumption, no significant increases in the resistance to oxidation of endogenous urate, alpha-tocopherol, and lipids were found. Thus, despite the high antioxidant capacity of individual apple polyphenols and apple extracts and the significant antioxidant effects of apple extract added to human plasma in vitro, ingestion of large amounts of apples by humans does not appear to result in equivalent in vivo antioxidant effects of apple polyphenols.

Alternate JournalFree Radic. Biol. Med.
PubMed ID14744632