Serum contains various antioxidant molecules that may provide important protection against free radical attack. The aim of this work was to assess the total antioxidant capacity of plasma and a marker of lipid per oxidation [(thiobarbituric acid-reactive substances (TBARS)] in plasma of healthy smoking and non-smoking young and elderly subjects. In addition, we investigated plasma concentrations of α-tocopherol, β-carotene, and ascorbic acid. In in vitro experiments, the effects of exogenous compounds (ascorbic acid, uric acid, Trolox) on total ferric-reducing activity of plasma (FRAP) were also tested. We demonstrated that total antioxidant capacity of plasma obtained from healthy non-smoking young subjects was significantly higher than plasma antioxidant capacity of smoking elderly subjects. The concentration of TBARS in young non-smoking volunteers was lower than that in young smokers. The concentration of TBARS in elderly non-smoking volunteers was lower than in elderly smokers. Plasma concentrations of alpha-tocopherol, beta-carotene and ascorbic acid were significantly lower in elderly smoker than in elderly non-smokers of the same age. No difference in the plasma levels of alpha-tocopherol, beta-carotene and ascorbic acid were found in 22-year-old smoking and non-smoking subjects. In vitro addition of ascorbic acid, uric acid, or Trolox to plasma samples significantly increased their total antioxidant capacity. Decrease of FRAP values and increase of TBARS concentrations is a significant physiologic condition of the aging process. Supplementation of antioxidants could be useful for the enhancement of antioxidant screen in plasma.
 B. Halliwell, J.M. Gutteridge and C.E. Cross: “Free radicals, antioxidants, and human disease: where are we now?”, Clin. Lab. Med., Vol. 119, (1992), pp. 598–620.
 B.P. Yu: “Cellular defenses against damage from reactive oxygen species”, Physiol. Rev., Vol. 74, (1994), pp. 139–162.
 C. Di Giacomo, R. Acquaviva, R. Lanteri, F. Licata, A. Licata and A. Venella: “Nonproteic antioxidant status in plasma of subjects with colon cancer”, Exp. Biol. Med., Vol. 228, (2003), pp. 525–528.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.