How It Started

NIS Labs, a Natural Products Research Laboratory, specializes in cell-based testing and clinical pilot studies. NIS Labs began developing a simpler – therefore less costly – method for testing the bioavailability of antioxidants at the cellular level several years ago in order to provide a more accessible test to the Natural Products Industry.

The patent pending assay (CAP-e) started out taking many lab hours and consequently many client dollars per sample tested. It is now a routine validated test that is affordable enough to use in a Quality Assurance program.

What is the CAP-e?

The CAP-e assay (Cell-based Antioxidant Protection in Erythrocytes) is a new method for evaluating the antioxidant potential of natural products based on the concept that many such antioxidant products are only of biological relevance if they are able to protect living cells. In other words, it is a cell-based assay for the evaluation of whether antioxidants in natural products are capable of protecting live cells from oxidative damage - it is designed to measure the antioxidant bioavailability of a product at a cellular level.

The erythrocyte, red blood cell (RBC), model was chosen for the CAP-e test because RBCs are simple and stable cells, and biologically relevant for antioxidant protection in the body. The RBC does not perform cellular signalling, undergo apoptosis, or produce reactive oxygen species, whereas all other cell types used in cell-based assays can.

Many test types used for measuring antioxidants have limited relevance for understanding the biological effects of antioxidants. Therefore, the relevance of antioxidants and antioxidant testing, especially as it relates to marketing claims in the Natural Products Industry, has come into question.  However, with the introduction of the CAP-e that has changed.

Data from the CAP-e assay can be used to make the following statement: “Antioxidants in your product can protect live cells”.  Further, data from the Certified Bioavailable Antioxidants Program involves clinical testing after consumption, and can be used to make the following statement: “Antioxidants in your product are bioavailable in humans”.