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Elaboration of microgel protein particles by controlled selfassembling of heat‐denatured beta‐lactoglobulin

Abstract : Beta lactoglobulin (βlg) is a major whey protein in the bovine milk. Upon heating above its denaturation temperature (which is pH-dependent), this globular protein undergoes molecular changes leading to the irreversible aggregation. Depending on the pH and ionic strength, either protein aggregates or gels exhibiting various structures and morphologies have been described. Very recently, it was found that in a narrow range of the pH close to iso-electric point, stable suspensions of rather monodisperse spherical particles with a radius of about a hundred nanometers were formed. These spherical particles which were called microgels might be of special interest for the production of liquid dispersions of β-lactoglobulin aggregates exhibiting various functionalities for food applications. The project on which I report here was a collaboration with the Nestlé Reseach Center (Lausanne, Switzerland) and its objective was to study the formation and structural properties of the microgels in different environmental conditions. The first part of the project is to study the influence of the pH on the formation of microgels. Stable suspensions of protein microgels are formed by heating salt free βlg solutions at concentrations up to about C = 50 g.L-1 if the pH is set within a narrow range between 5.75 and 6.1. The internal protein concentration of these spherical particles is about 150 g.L-1 and the average hydrodynamic radius decreases with increasing pH from 200 nm to 75 nm. The formation of the microgels leads to an increase of the pH, which is a necessary condition to obtain stable suspensions. The spontaneous increase of the pH during microgel formation leads to an increase of their surface charge density and inhibits secondary aggregation. This self-stabilization mechanism is not sufficient if the initial pH is below 5.75 in which case secondary aggregation leads to precipitation. Microgels are no longer formed above a critical initial pH, but instead short curved protein strands are obtained with a hydrodynamic radius of about 15-20 nm. The second part of the work is about the formation of microgels driven by the addition of calcium ions. We found that stable suspensions of spherical protein particles (microgels) can be formed by heating βlg solutions in the presence of calcium ions. The conditions for the calcium induced microgel formation were studied at different pH between 5.8 and 7.5 and different protein concentrations between 5 – 100 g.L-1. The results showed that a critical molar ratio of calcium to proteins (R) is needed to form microgels independent of the protein concentration. R decreases with decreasing pH. The microgels have a hydrodynamic radius ranging from 100 to 300 nm and their internal protein concentration ranges from 0.2 to 0.45 g.mL-1. The determination of calcium bound to the microgels suggests that the crucial parameter for microgel formation is the net charge density of the native proteins. The microgel suspensions are stable in a narrow range of R but aggregate at higher Ca2+ concentrations. In the third part, we continued to investigate the formation of microgels at initial step and how it is growing in the presence of calcium ions. We have proposed a mechanism of formation of blg microgels which follows a nucleation and growing process. The nucleus with define size are formed at the initial state and that is growing in size to reach final size of aggregates. At low calcium concentration it stabilizes and then we obtain a stable suspension of microgels. But at high concentrations, the microgels here can jump to form big aggregates and finally a gel. The structure of gel from microgels is heterogenous at the scale of confocal microscopy and similar to those formed in the presence of NaCl 0.3 M. However the process of formation of these gels is not the same...
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Minh-Tuan Phan-Xuan. Elaboration of microgel protein particles by controlled selfassembling of heat‐denatured beta‐lactoglobulin. Other. Université du Maine, 2012. English. ⟨NNT : 2012LEMA1018⟩. ⟨tel-00770331⟩

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