Fundamental knowledge of physicochemical interactions in the gastrointestinal environment is required in order to support rational designing of protein-stabilized colloidal food and pharmaceutical delivery systems with controlled behavior. In this paper, we report on the colloidal behavior of emulsions stabilized with the milk protein sodium caseinate (Na-Cas), and exposed to conditions simulating the human upper gastrointestinal tract. In particular, we looked at how the kinetics of proteolysis was affected by adsorption to an oil–water interface in emulsion and whether the proteolysis and the emulsion stability could be manipulated by enzymatic structuring of the interface. After cross-linking with the enzyme transglutaminase, the protein was digested with use of an in vitro model of gastro-duodenal proteolysis in the presence or absence of physiologically relevant surfactants (phosphatidylcholine, PC; bile salts, BS). Significant differences were found between the rates of digestion of Na-Cas cross-linked in emulsion (adsorbed protein) and in solution. In emulsion, the digestion of a population of polypeptides of Mr ca. 50–100 kDa was significantly retarded through the gastric digestion. The persistent interfacial polypeptides maintained the original emulsion droplet size and prevented the system from phase separating. Rapid pepsinolysis of adsorbed, non-cross-linked Na-Cas and its displacement by PC led to emulsion destabilization. These results suggest that structuring of emulsions by enzymatic cross-linking of the interfacial protein may affect the phase behavior of emulsion in the stomach and the gastric digestion rate in vivo. Measurements of ζ-potential revealed that BS displaced the remaining protein from the oil droplets during the simulated duodenal phase of digestion. Diffusion of the postdigestion emulsion droplets through ex vivo porcine intestinal mucus was only significant in the presence of BS due to the high negative charge these biosurfactants imparted to the droplets. This implies that the electrostatic repulsion produced can prevent the droplets from being trapped by the mucus matrix and facilitate their transport across the small intestine mucosal barrier.
Macierzanka, A., Böttger, F., Rigby, N. M., Lille, M., Poutanen, K., Mills, E. N. C., & Mackie, A. R. (2012). Enzymatically structured emulsions in simulated gastrointestinal environment: Impact on interfacial proteolysis and diffusion in intestinal mucus. Langmuir, 28, 17349-17362. https://doi.org/10.1021/la302194q