Responsiveness of emulsions stabilized by lactoferrin nano-particles to simulated intestinal conditions
There is an upsurge of interest in the use of nano-particles to fabricate emulsions and modulate their functionality, with particular emphasis on modulating emulsion digestive fate. Food grade nano-particles formed through controlled processing and electrostatic biopolymer interactions are yet to be systematically studied for their ability to stabilize emulsions and modulate emulsion digestibility. This study focused on the responsiveness of emulsions stabilized by lactoferrin (LF) nano-particles (NPs) and dietary fibers to key digestive parameters. Compared to native LF, LF-NPs comprised emulsion exhibited elevated creaming rates as evident from accelerated stability tests performed by analytical centrifugation. The electrostatic deposition of alginate or carrageenan onto the LF-NPs significantly improved the stability of the corresponding emulsions. Further, the use of various nano-particles showed to have both beneficial and deleterious effects on emulsion responsiveness to pH (2.0 < pH < 10.0), CaCl2 (0–40 mM) and bile (0–25 mg mL−1). Simulated pH-stat lipolysis experiments show that the use of LF or LF-NPs had no marked effect on lipolysis. Intriguingly, the use of LF-NPs and alginate reduced emulsion lipolysis by 14% while the use of LF-NPs and carrageenan increased lipolysis by 10%. Microscopy images as well as droplet characterization in terms of size and charge indicate that the altered emulsion responsiveness may be due to physical differences in emulsion properties (e.g. droplet size) and overall organization during digestion (e.g. aggregation vs. coalescence). Overall, this study's insights could prospectively be used to harness protein nano-particles to tweak emulsion behavior during digestion.