Main content area

Cheese peptidomics: A detailed study on the evolution of the oligopeptide fraction in Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese from curd to 24 months of aging

Sforza, S., Cavatorta, V., Lambertini, F., Galaverna, G., Dossena, A., Marchelli, R.
Journal of dairy science 2012 v.95 no.7 pp. 3514-3526
bioactive properties, cheeses, enzyme activity, fermentation, milk, peptides, ripening, wheels
In this work, we performed a detailed evaluation of the evolution of the oligopeptide fractions in samples of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese from the curd up to 24 mo of aging. The samples were taken from wheels produced the same day, in the same factory, from the same milk, during the same caseification process, thus simplifying the natural variability of a whey-based starter fermentation. This unique and homogeneous sampling plan, never reported before in the literature, provided a detailed study of the peptides produced by enzymatic events during Parmigiano-Reggiano aging. Given the large dimensions of the 35-kg wheels of Parmigiano-Reggiano, samples were taken from both the internal and external parts of the cheese, to evidence eventual differences in the oligopeptide composition of the different parts. Fifty-seven peptides were considered, being among the most abundant during at least one of the periods of ripening considered, and their semiquantification indicated that the peptide fraction of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese constantly evolves during the aging period. Five trends in its evolution were outlined, which could be clearly correlated to the enzymatic activities present in the cheese, making it possible to discriminate cheeses according to their aging time. Several known bioactive peptides were also found to be present in Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese samples, and for the first time, the age at which they are most abundant has been identified. Aged cheeses have been shown to be dominated by nonproteolytic aminoacyl derivatives, a new class of peptide-like molecules recently reported. Finally, the changing peptide pattern may be related to the changing enzymatic activities occurring inside the cheeses during the aging period, which, in turn, are also related to the microbiological composition.