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Processes improving the dispersibility of spray-dried zein nanoparticles using sodium caseinate

Chen, Huaiqiong, Zhong, Qixin
Food hydrocolloids 2014 v.35 pp. 358-366
bioactive properties, biopolymers, buffers, cold storage, dispersibility, dispersions, encapsulation, ethanol, foods, freeze drying, hydrophobicity, ionic strength, nanoparticles, pH, sampling, sodium caseinate, sodium chloride, turbidity, zein
Zein has been studied as a versatile food biopolymer to fabricate nanoparticles for encapsulating a large variety of bioactive compounds. Being water-insoluble prolamines, dispersing zein nanoparticles in aqueous systems is a challenge. Recently, sodium caseinate (NaCas) was observed to have improved the dispersibility of freeze-dried zein nanoparticles but not for spray-dried samples. In this paper, three different approaches were studied to produce spray-dried zein nanoparticles precipitated by dispersing aqueous ethanol solutions of zein into the aqueous phase. The control (S2) was produced by dispersing zein solution into NaCas dispersion without pH adjustment. The other two approaches involved conditions dissociating NaCas: adjusting NaCas dispersion to pH 11.0 (S5) or dissolving NaCas in heated zein solution before dispersing to a pH 8.0 buffer (S4). After hydrating the spray-dried powder, dispersions demonstrated varying turbidity and precipitation stability during storage. Entire NaCas was observed to have adsorbed on S2 zein nanoparticles, corresponding to bigger particles, higher turbidity and lower stability of dispersions than those of S4 and S5. Conversely, only κ-casein was on zein nanoparticles of S4 and S5, corresponding to a higher zein:casein mass ratio and higher surface hydrophobicity than that of S2. The best dispersibility was observed for S4 at pH 7.0 and 0–300 mM NaCl, with the smallest hydrodynamic diameter (∼125 nm), lowest turbidity, and without precipitation during 15-day refrigerated storage. Compositional analyses suggested that κ-casein in S4 was a part of zein nanoparticle matrices and was not detached by increased ionic strength during storage. Conversely, caseins detached from zein nanoparticles of S2 and S5, causing particle aggregation and precipitation. Additionally, the approach in S4 utilized less ethanol (50% v/v vs. 80% in the other two approaches) to dissolve zein. Our work is significant in fabricating delivery systems of bioactive compounds utilizing zein as a carrier biopolymer.