Choice of DMEM, formulated with or without pyruvate, plays an important role in assessing the in vitro cytotoxicity of oxidants and prooxidant nutraceuticals

  • H. Babich
  • E. J. Liebling
  • R. F. Burger
  • H. L. Zuckerbraun
  • A. G. Schuck


There is much interest in the positive health effects of nutraceuticals, in particular, polyphenols, which have both antioxidant and prooxidant characteristics. Pyruvate, a scavenger of hydrogen peroxide, is a component in some, but not in all, commercial formulations of cell culture media, Dulbecco’s modified Eagle’s medium in particular. This study showed that the cytotoxicities to human fibroblasts of hydrogen peroxide, tert-butyl hydroperoxide, and various prooxidant nutraceuticals were lessened in Dulbecco’s modified Eagle’s medium formulated with pyruvate, as compared to the same medium but formulated without pyruvate. Intracellular glutathione was unaffected in cells treated with hydrogen peroxide in Dulbecco’s modified Eagle’s medium formulated with pyruvate, as compared to medium formulated without pyruvate. In these studies, intracellular glutathione was analyzed in acid-soluble cell extracts by determining the oxidation of reduced glutathione by 5,5′-dithiobis(2-nitrobenzoic acid) to glutathione disulfide, with the formation of the yellow chromagen, 5-thio-2-nitrobenzoic acid, measured spectrophotometrically at 412 nm and by the visualization of reduced glutathione in cells stained with the fluorescent dye, Cell Tracker™ Green 5-chloromethylfluorescein diacetate. A survey of various cell culture media, formulated with and without pyruvate, confirmed that the level of added hydrogen peroxide was greatly lessened in those media formulated with pyruvate. This study suggested that the pyruvate status of Dulbecco’s modified Eagle’s medium be specified in the experimental design, especially in studies involving oxidative stress.


Pyruvate Oxidants Prooxidants Nutraceuticals In vitro toxicity 


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Copyright information

© The Society for In Vitro Biology 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. Babich
    • 1
  • E. J. Liebling
    • 1
  • R. F. Burger
    • 1
  • H. L. Zuckerbraun
    • 1
  • A. G. Schuck
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biology, Stern College for WomenYeshiva UniversityNew YorkUSA

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