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Aggregation of casein micelles by interactions with chitosans: a study by Monte Carlo simulations

Narambuena, C.F., Ausar, F.S., Bianco, I.D., Beltramo, D.M., Leiva, E.P.M.
Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 2005 v.53 no.2 pp. 459-463
casein, chitosan, protein aggregates, Monte Carlo method, coagulation
Recently, it was found that the addition of chitosan, a cationic polymer, to whole or skim milk produces the destabilization and coagulation of casein micelles which takes place without modifications in the milk pH or in the stability of most of the whey proteins. In the present work, Monte Carlo simulations are employed to show that the phase separation of casein micelles induced by chitosan can be explained by a depletion mechanism, where an effective attraction between the casein micelles is induced by the presence of chitosan molecules. This interaction is described on the basis of Vrij's model, where the depletion of polymer from the gap between neighboring casein micelles originates an effective attractive interaction that leads to a phase transition. This model, that considers volume restriction effects, accounts for several qualitative and even quantitative aspects of the experimental data for the coagulation of casein through chitosan addition.