One of the matchless ironies of the human body is its requirement for the highly reactive oxygen molecule, which has been clearly implicated in many diseases and the aging processes. Oxidants produced by metabolic processes damage cells by starting chemical chain reactions including oxidation of DNA and proteins as well as lipid peroxidation. Damage to DNA can cause mutations and lead to cancer if not reversed by DNA repair mechanisms. Damage to proteins causes enzyme inhibition, denaturation and protein degradation. Lipid peroxidation can cause cell lysis as well as creating mutagenic and carcinogenic by-products. The human body contains antioxidants and enzymes that together work to prevent oxidative damage to cellular components. By and large antioxidants either prevent these reactive oxygen species from being formed or remove them before they cause damage. There are many theories currently that tout the superior nature of diverse antioxidant combinations. One such theory is by Dr. Lester Packer of The University of California at Berkley. Dr. Packer puts forth the hypothesis that there is a superlative combination of five antioxidants that have the ability to "recharge" one another both in the blood plasma and intracellularly. This would result in a greater quality of antioxidant protection for an extended time. The current study evaluates Dr. Packer's theory of antioxidant combination from his book The Antioxidant Miracle. The decay rate of the antioxidants vitamin E, vitamin C, lipoic acid, glutathione, and coenzyme Q10 alone and in combination were determined using the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) assay. The majority of the antioxidants retained activity for longer periods of time when tested alone, rather than in combination as Dr. Packer's theory would suggest. The assay was also preformed (using the same antioxidants and combinations) on oxidatively damaged Raji cancer cells. Cell viability and uptake of antioxidants into the cytoplasm were monitored. Finally, a variety of multivitamins were subjected to the ORAC assay and their antioxidant capacity compared to that of the "Packer Combination". The results suggest that multivitamins are superior antioxidants than the Packer ratio listed in The Antioxidant Miracle.



College and Department

Life Sciences; Microbiology and Molecular Biology



Date Submitted


Document Type





anioxidants, resveratrol, coenzyme Q10, vitamin E, lipoic acid, vitamin C, glutathione



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Microbiology Commons