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Crit Rev Biotechnol. 2004;24(2-3):59-83.

Ferulic acid: an antioxidant found naturally in plant cell walls and feruloyl esterases involved in its release and their applications.

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  • 1Biochemical Processing Section, Regional Research Laboratory (CSIR), Trivandrum, Kerala, India.


Ferulic acid is the most abundant hydroxycinnamic acid in the plant world and maize bran with 3.1% (w/w) ferulic acid is one of the most promising sources of this antioxidant. The dehydrodimers of ferulic acid are important structural components in the plant cell wall and serve to enhance its rigidity and strength. Feruloyl esterases are a subclass of the carboxylic acid esterases that hydrolyze the ester bond between hydroxycinnamic acids and sugars present in plant cell walls and they have been isolated from a wide range of microorganisms, when grown on complex substrates such as cereal brans, sugar beet pulp, pectin and xylan. These enzymes perform a function similar to alkali in the deesterification of plant cell wall and differ in their specificities towards the methyl esters of cinnamic acids and ferulolylated oligosaccharides. They act synergistically with xylanases and pectinases and facilitate the access of hydrolases to the backbone of cell wall polymers. The applications of ferulic acid and feruloyl esterase enzymes are many and varied. Ferulic acid obtained from agricultural byproducts is a potential precursor for the production of natural vanillin, due to the lower production cost.

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