, Volume 207, Issue 4, pp 604-611

Improving the thiobarbituric acid-reactive-substances assay for estimating lipid peroxidation in plant tissues containing anthocyanin and other interfering compounds

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The occurrence of malondialdehyde (MDA), a secondary end product of the oxidation of polyunsaturated fatty acids, is considered a useful index of general lipid peroxidation. A common method for measuring MDA, referred to as the thiobarbituric acid-reactive-substances (TBARS) assay, is to react it with thiobarbituric acid (TBA) and record the absorbance at 532 nm. However, many plants contain interfering compounds that also absorb at 532 nm, leading to overestimation of MDA values. Extracts of plant tissues including purple eggplant (Solanum melongena L.) fruit, carrot (Daucuscarota L.) roots, and spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.) leaves were assessed for the presence of MDA and other non-MDA compounds absorbing at 532 nm. A method described herein corrects for these interferences by subtracting the absorbance at 532 nm of a solution containing plant extract incubated without TBA from an identical solution containing TBA. The reliability and efficiency of this spectrophotometric method was assessed by altering the relative ratios of exogenous MDA additions and/or extracts of red cabbage (Brassica oleracea L.) leaves containing interfering compounds and then measuring MDA recovery. Reliability was also validated through high-performance liquid chromatography and high-performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry techniques. Results indicated that over 90% of exogenously added MDA could be recovered through the improved protocol. If there were no corrections for interfering compounds, MDA equivalents were overestimated by up to 96.5%. Interfering compounds were not detected in vegetables such as lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) and spinach which had low or negligible concentrations of anthocyanidin derivatives. Comparisons between the TBARS method presented here and two currently accepted protocols indicated that the new modified method exhibits greater accuracy for quantifying TBA-MDA levels in tissues containing anthocyanins and/or other interfering compounds. This modified protocol represents a facile and rapid method for assessment of lipid peroxidation in virtually all plant species that contain interfering compounds.