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Stability of curcumin in oil-in-water emulsions: Impact of emulsifier type and concentration on chemical degradation

Kharat, Mahesh, Zhang, Guodong, McClements, David Julian
Food research international 2018 v.111 pp. 178-186
Quillaja, bioavailability, chemical degradation, creaming, curcumin, droplets, drugs, emulsifiers, emulsions, functional properties, gum arabic, inflammation, neoplasms, nutrient intake, pH, peroxidation, polysorbates, saponins, sodium caseinate, storage temperature, surface area, water solubility
Oral ingestion of curcumin is claimed to be effective against several diseases, including inflammation and cancer. However, its utilization in food, supplement, and pharmaceutical products is often challenging due to its poor water solubility, high chemical instability, and limited oral bioavailability. Emulsion-based delivery systems can be designed to overcome these challenges, but their composition and structure must be optimized to ensure they function appropriately. This study examined the impact of emulsifier type on the formation and stability of curcumin-loaded oil-in-water emulsions: sodium caseinate; Tween 80; quillaja saponin; gum arabic. The effectiveness of these food-grade emulsifiers at forming emulsions by microfluidization was characterized in terms of their surface load, i.e., the mass of emulsifier per unit surface area. The surface loads decreased in the following order: gum arabic (55.3 mg/m2) > > saponins (2.0 mg/m2) > Tween 80 (1.6 mg/m2) > caseinate (1.5 mg/m2), which indicated that much more gum arabic was required to form emulsions than the other emulsifiers. Curcumin-loaded emulsions were then prepared under conditions where there was just enough emulsifier to cover the droplet surfaces (“critical”), and under conditions where there was an excess of emulsifier in the aqueous phase (“excess”). Initially, both critical and excess emulsions were physically stable and had similar appearances. In all emulsions, curcumin degradation during storage occurred more rapidly at pH 7 than at pH 3, and was faster at 55 °C than at 37 °C. The physical and chemical stability of the curcumin-loaded emulsions also depended on emulsifier type. After storage at 55 °C for 15 days, the extent of curcumin degradation decreased in the following order: saponins > > gum arabic ≈ casinate ≈ Tween 80. Moreover, droplet creaming was observed in the critical Tween 80 and saponin emulsions, but not in the other emulsions. These results suggest that saponin accelerated curcumin degradation, possibly due to its ability to promote peroxidation reactions. Emulsifier concentration did not significantly affect curcumin degradation. These results suggest that the physical and chemical stability of curcumin-loaded emulsions is influenced by emulsifier type and level. This information may be useful for formulating emulsion-based delivery systems for curcumin with improved physicochemical and functional properties.