Oxidative stress has been identified as the root cause of the development and progression of several diseases. Supplementation of exogenous antioxidants or boosting endogenous antioxidant defenses of the body is a promising way of combating the undesirable effects of reactive oxygen species (ROS) induced oxidative damage. Plants have an innate ability to biosynthesize a wide range of non-enzymatic antioxidants capable of attenuating ROS- induced oxidative damage. Several in vitro methods have been used to screen plants for their antioxidant potential, and in most of these assays they revealed potent antioxidant activity. However, prior to confirming their in vivo therapeutic efficacy, plant antioxidants have to pass through several physiopharmacological processes. Consequently, the findings of in vitro and in vivo antioxidant potential assessment studies are not always the same. Nevertheless, the results of in vitro assays have been irrelevantly extrapolated to the therapeutic application of plant antioxidants without undertaking sufficient in vivo studies. Therefore, we have briefly reviewed the physiology and redox biology of both plants and humans to improve our understanding of plant antioxidants as therapeutic entities. The applications and limitations of antioxidant activity measurement assays were also highlighted to identify the precise path to be followed for future research in the area of plant antioxidants.
Keywords: Antioxidant activity, pharmacology, plants, prooxidants, secondary metabolites