One-step assembly of zein/caseinate/alginate nanoparticles for encapsulation and improved bioaccessibility of propolis.

Research paper by Hao H Zhang, Yuying Y Fu, Yujuan Y Xu, Fuge F Niu, Zeya Z Li, Chujie C Ba, Bing B Jin, Guowen G Chen, Xiaomeng X Li

Indexed on: 17 Jan '19Published on: 17 Jan '19Published in: Food & Function


The design of zein-based nanoparticles to encapsulate bioactive molecules has gained great attention in recent years. However, the use of ethanol to dissolve zein presents flammability concerns and the scale-up production of zein-based nanoparticles is also a concern. In our study, propolis loaded zein/caseinate/alginate nanoparticles were fabricated using a facile one-step procedure: a well-blended solution was prepared containing deprotonated propolis, soluble zein, dissociated sodium caseinate micelles (NaCas) and alginate at alkaline pH, and then this alkaline solution was added to 0.1 M citrate buffer (pH 3.8) to fabricate composite nanoparticles without using organic solvents and sophisticated equipment. During acidification, the alginate molecules adsorbed on the zein/NaCas surfaces by electrostatic complexation, which improved the stability towards aggregation of zein/NaCas nanoparticles under gastrointestinal (GI) or acidic pH. The nanoparticles prepared under the optimized method (method 3 sample) were of spherical morphology with a particle size around 208 nm and a negative zeta potential around -27 mV. The encapsulation efficiency (EE) and loading capacity (LC) of propolis reached 86.5% and 59.6 μg mg-1 by zein/NaCas/alginate nanoparticles, respectively. These nanoparticles were shown to be stable towards aggregation over a wide range of pH values (2-8) and salt concentrations (0-300 mM NaCl). Compared to free propolis, the bioaccessibility of propolis encapsulated with nanoparticles was increased to 80%. Our results showed a promising clean and scalability strategy to encapsulate hydrophobic nutraceuticals for applications in foods, supplements, and pharmaceuticals.