Potential bioavailability enhancement of bioactive compounds using food-grade engineered nanomaterials: a review of the existing evidence
The development of engineered nanometre sized materials (ENM) produced with food-grade ingredients and designed as delivery systems for organic and inorganic materials has gained increasing interest. The major reason for this trend is the aim to overcome problems associated with the low bioavailability of many bioactive compounds (BC) which are usually claimed to benefit human health. In this review, outcomes of studies investigating the potential bioavailability enhancement of BC using ENM as delivery systems are summarised and discussed. It focuses on in vitro and in vivo studies carried out with ENM produced with food-grade materials and designed for the delivery of vitamins, other secondary plant metabolites and minerals. Furthermore, the physical and physicochemical aspects governing the preparation of the systems, the loading of the BC, the stability of the delivery systems in food applications and finally the release of the BC in the gastrointestinal tract are also considered. The mechanisms leading to an enhanced bioavailability are based on (i) improved solubility of the BC under gastrointestinal conditions, (ii) the protection of the BC from the chemical conditions in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT), (iii) the controlled release within the GIT or (iv) an improved transfer through the intestinal wall. The main outcome of the review is that particle size, surface properties and physical state of the ENM are key parameters to be controlled aiming at an enhanced nutritional value of food materials. Furthermore, the bioavailability classification scheme (BCS) can help to understand the efficacy of different ENM for the delivery of specific BC.