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J Dairy Sci. 2007 Feb;90(2):547-55.

Antioxidant nature of bovine milk beta-lactoglobulin.

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1
Department of Biological Science and Technology, College of Biological Science and Technology, National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan, Republic of China.

Abstract

Heating is necessary for processing milk in the dairy industry, which evidently produces a conformational change in beta-lactoglobulin (beta-LG). beta-Lactoglobulin, a major protein that accounts for approximately 10 to 15% of total milk proteins, is a globular protein consisting of 162 AA with a relative molecular mass of 18.4 kDa. The purpose of the present study was to determine the antioxidant role of beta-LG in milk and the possible mechanism involved. We showed that beta-LG is a mild antioxidant whose potency is less than that of vitamin E and probucol (the latter being an antioxidant used for clinical therapy). The conversion of the beta-LG monomer to dimer was responsible, in part, for the mode of action in protecting low-density lipoproteins against copper-induced oxidation. Cross-linking the free thiol groups of beta-LG by heating (100 degrees C for 2 min), or chemically modifying the beta-LG by carboxymethylation to block the thiol groups resulted in a substantial loss of antioxidant activity. The data suggest that Cys-121 plays an essential role in the antioxidant nature of beta-LG. By using an anti-LG antibody affinity column to deplete the beta-LG from milk, we observed from the lost antioxidant activity that beta-LG contributes approximately 50% of the total activity. Because beta-LG is extremely sensitive to thermal denaturation, to maintain its antioxidant nature, dairy products consumed daily should not be overheated in order to maintain its antioxidant nature.

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