Effect of thermal treatment, ionic strength, and pH on the short-term and long-term coalescence stability of beta-lactoglobulin emulsions.

Research paper by Slavka S Tcholakova, Nikolai D ND Denkov, Doroteya D Sidzhakova, Bruce B Campbell

Indexed on: 28 Jun '06Published on: 28 Jun '06Published in: Langmuir


We present experimental results about the effects of thermal treatment, ionic strength, and pH on the protein adsorption and coalescence stability of freshly prepared (2 h after emulsification) and 6-day-stored emulsions, stabilized by the globular protein beta-lactoglobulin (BLG). In all emulsions studied, the volume fraction of the dispersed soybean oil is 30% and the mean drop diameter is d(32) approximately 40 microm. The protein concentration, C(BLG), is varied between 0.02 and 0.1 wt %, the electrolyte concentration, C(EL), between 1.5 mM and 1 M, and pH between 4.0 and 7.0. The emulsion heating is performed at 85 degrees C, which is above the denaturing temperature of BLG. The results show that, at C(BLG) > or = 0.04 wt %, C(EL) > or = 150 mM, and pH > or = 6.2, the heating leads to higher protein adsorption and to irreversible attachment of the adsorbed molecules, which results in enhanced steric repulsion between the protein adsorption multilayers and to higher emulsion stability. At low electrolyte concentration, C(EL) < or = 10 mM, the emulsion stability is determined by electrostatic interactions and is not affected significantly by the emulsion heating. The latter result is explained by electrostatic repulsion between the adsorbed protein molecules, which keeps them separated from each other and thus precludes the formation of disulfide covalent bonds in the protein adsorption layer. The coalescence stability of heated and nonheated emulsions is practically the same and does not depend on C(EL), when pH is around the isoelectric point (IEP) of the protein molecules. This is explained with the adsorption of uncharged BLG molecules, in compact conformation, which stores the reactive sulfhydryl groups hidden inside the molecule interior, thus preventing the formation of covalent intermolecular bonds upon heating. We studied also the effect of storage time on the stability of heated and nonheated emulsions. The stability of nonheated emulsions (C(BLG) = 0.1 wt %, C(EL) > or = 150 mM, and pH = 6.2) significantly decreases after 1 day of storage (aging effect). In contrast, no aging effect is observed after emulsion heating. FTIR spectra of heated and nonheated, fresh and aged emulsions suggest that the aging effect is caused by slow conformational changes of the protein molecules in the adsorption layer, accompanied with partial loss of the ordered secondary structure of the protein and with the formation of lateral noncovalent bonds (H-bonds and hydrophobic interactions) between the adsorbed molecules. After thermal treatment of the BLG emulsions, the molecules preserve their original secondary structure upon storage, which eliminates the aging effect.