Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) has been implicated as a major contributor to coffee mutagenicity and genotoxicity in vitro. We have used three assays to show the gradual formation of H2O2 in freshly prepared roasted ground coffee and in instant coffees over time reaching levels of 400-450 μM after a 1-h incubation period. Formation of H2O2 occurs through an auto-oxidation process where polyphenolics, in the presence of transition metals, reduce atmospheric oxygen. However, because of these polyphenolics, coffee also possesses in vitro antioxidant activity as shown by its capacity to inhibit lipid peroxidation in Fenton-catalysed hydroxylation reactions. The pro- and antioxidative effects of coffee are also reflected in its mutagenic and antimutagenic activity in the Ames test. Coffee is directly mutagenic in strains TA100 and TA102 due to H2O2 formation. However, coffee is also an antioxidant and antimutagen. This beverage exerts a strong protective effect against the mutagenicity and cytotoxicity induced by the oxidant t-butylhydroperoxide (t-BOOH). Thus, coffee, like many antioxidants, exhibits dual effects in vitro which are highly dependent upon parameters such as dose, atmospheric oxygen, transition metals as well as the biological and chemical endpoints used for measurement. Consequently, the data obtained on the pro- and antioxidant properties of foods and beverages from in vitro bioassays must be interpreted with caution and the results are not easily extrapolated in vivo to assess the impact on human health.
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Instant coffee