Plants have a large number of bioactive compounds with high antioxidant activity. Studies for the determination of the antioxidant activity of different plant species could contribute to revealing the value of these species as a source of new antioxidant compounds. There is a large variety of in vitro methods to quantify antioxidant activity, and it is important to select the proper method to determine which species have the highest antioxidant activity. The aim of this work was to verify whether different methods show the same sensitivity and/or capacity to discriminate the antioxidant activity of the extract of different plant species. To that end, we selected 12 species with different content of phenolic compounds. Their extracts were analyzed using the following methods: 2,2-di-phenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) radical scavenging capacity assay, ferric reducing (FRAP) assay, Trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity (ABTS) assay, and reducing power (RP) assay. The four methods selected could quantify the antioxidant capacity of the 12 study species, although there were differences between them. The antioxidant activity values quantified through DPPH and RP were higher than the ones obtained by ABTS and FRAP, and these values varied among species. Thus, the hierarchization or categorization of these species was different depending on the method used. Another difference established between these methods was the sensitivity obtained with each of them. A cluster revealed that RP established the largest number of groups at the shortest distance from the root. Therefore, as it showed the best discrimination of differences and/or similarities between species, RP is considered in this study as the one with the highest sensitivity among the four studied methods. On the other hand, ABTS showed the lowest sensitivity. These results show the importance of selecting the proper antioxidant activity quantification method for establishing a ranking of species based on this parameter.
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